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D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S., ETC., 








So little is known of the interior of Eussian America, 
that I trust even this imperfect and meagre narrative may 
prove not altogether uninteresting. A large portion of these 
pages refers to a journey made in the Yukon region, which 
though containing one of the grandest streams on the North 
American continent, has hitherto remained almost unno- 
ticed. Sir John Eichardson, indeed, when on the Macken- 
zie, collected some information respecting it, but never vis- 
ited any portion of it, while the travels of Zagoskin, of the 
Eussian Imperial Navy, have never been popularly known. 

This country has recently acquired some notice from its 
transfer to the United States Government, and within a few 
years we shall doubtless hear more of it. The natives have 
been hitherto so isolated from civilization, that perhaps in 
no other part of America can the " red-skin" be seen to great- 
er perfection. In a few generations he will be extinct. 

"Alaska Territory" — the title by which the whole of 
Eussian America is to be known in future — though as good 
a name as any other, is founded, apparently, on a miscon- 
ception. It seems to have been derived from the title of 
that long peninsula (Aliaska) with which we are all familiar 
on the map, but the title does not properly belong to the 
whole territory. 

I have before me a " Eeport on the Eesources of Iceland 
and Greenland," issued this year (1868) by the State De- 
partment at Washington. It was compiled, at the desire of 
the Hon. W. H. Seward, by B. M. Peirce, Esq. From that 
production I glean that the United States Government, 
so far from regretting the purchase of Alaska, are almost 

xii Preface. 

ready to bid for Iceland and Greenland! Mr. Seward's 
mania for icebergs and snow-fields seems insatiable. 

The opening chapters contain some earlier reminiscences 
of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, while in the 
concluding pages I have attempted to sketch California of 
our own time. I have also briefly recorded some visits 
paid by me to the eastern coasts of Siberia and Kamchatka. 

Some of the most pleasant days of my life were spent 
with the two expeditions with which I have been connect- 
ed ; and of many of my old friends and companions I shall 
ever think with much kindness. To Colonel Bulkley, En- 
gineer-in-chief of the Russo-American Telegraph Expedi- 
tion; to Captain Scammon (IT. S. Revenue Service); and 
to my good friends Messrs. Wright, Chappel, and Lewis, all 
American gentlemen with whom it was a pleasure to be 
connected, I am indebted for courtesies which it would be 
difficult for me to sufficiently acknowledge. 

To the President and Council of the Royal Geographical 
Society I am specially obliged for the use of the map, illus- 
trating the course of the Yukon, etc., which, is to appear in 
their " Journal " in connection with the paper contributed 
by me. To Mr. Arrowsmith, for the trouble he has taken 
to work out the crude material laid before him ; to Mr. H. 
W. Bates and Captain George ; to Mr. Murray, and to my 
father and brother, for their constant and kind assistance, I 
can not be too grateful. 

The illustrations are taken, with but two exceptions, 
from the original sketches made on the spot; they have 
gained considerably in the hands of my friends, Messrs. 
Skelton, Mahoney, and Zwecker. The portrait of an Aht 
native (Vancouver Island), page 74, has been copied from 
an excellent photograph by Mr. Gentile, now of San Fran- 
cisco; and the picture of a Tchuktchi house, page 112, is 
from a photograph by Mr. Ryder, who was for the season 
of 1866 attached to the Telegraph Expedition. 




Leaving England. — Our Passengers. — Old Mo'. — Freight for the matrimo- 
nial Market. — Storm on board. — Mutiny. — Volunteer coal-heaving. — 
Falkland Islands. — Port Stanley. — The Horn. — Out of Coal. — San Fran- 
cisco. — The Straits of Fuca. — Cook. — Vancouver. — Juan de Fuca. — 
Victoria. — Cariboo Mines. — The Gold. — The Discoverers of William's 
Creek. — Journalism on the Pacific Page 21 



The Mountains of British Columbia and adjacent Coasts. — Bute Inlet. — 
Chilicoten Indians. — A "Blow-up." — Indian Packets. — Route through 
the Forest. — Indian Guide. — Chinook Jargon. — Trackless Forests. — 
Lost in the Woods. — The glacier Streams. — Camp. — Great Glacier. — 
Description. — Return Journey. — Second Glacier 36 




Reported Murder.— Canoe-trip on the Sea.— Dodd's Narrows.— Island on 
Fire.— The Massacre at Bute Inlet.— Reports of Survivors.— Secon d.Mas- 
sacre.— Excitement in the Colony.— Expeditions in Search of the In- 
dians.— Capture of a Part of the Murderers.— The Ideal and Real In- 
dian.— His ultimate Extinction.— Reasons for it.— Indian Traders.— 
Proposed semi-secular, 'semi-missionary Settlements.— The Mission at 
Metlakahtla , 48 



Pleasures of Labor. — Unknown Interior of Vancouver Island. — Expedition 
organized. — Cowichan River.— Somenos. — Kakalatza and his Hat-box. — 
Travel up the River. — Our Camps.— Camp Yarns. — Indian Version of the 
Book of Jonah. — Cowichan Lake. — Rafting Experiences. — The "Ram- 
pant Raft." — Brown's Camp. — Acquisition of a Canoe 61 

xiv Contents, 



Nittinaht. — "Whyack." — The Indians. — Aht Tribes.— The Breakers. — 
Port San Juan. — Indian Yarn. — Sooke. — Basin and River. — Discovery 
of Gold. — Gold on Queen Charlotte's Island. — Nanaimo. — Coal-seam 
at Comox. — Ascent of Puntledge River. — Wreck of Canoe. — Interior 
Lakes.— Barclay Sound. — Game List. — Camp-marks Page 73 



Acquisition of Russian America by the United States. — American Criticisms 
on the Purchase. — Coal and gold Discoveries. — Mock Advertise- 
ments. — America for the Americans. — Geographical Literature of the 
Pacific. — Of Russian America. — The Treaty. — W. U. Telegraph Expedi- 
tion. — Its Organization. — Preference for young Men 86 



The Voyage. — Sitka Sound and Harbor. — Baranoff. — Early History. — The 
Town. — Water Supply.' — Agriculture. — Former Russian Settlements 
in California. — Russian American Company. — The Fisheries. — Kalosh 
Indians. — Our Experiences of Russian Hospitality. — Sitka in new 
Hands. — Two Sundays in a Week. — Kodiak Ice. — Formal Transfer of 
Alaska 93 




Departure from Sitka. — Oukamok. — Ounga. — Breakers ahead! — Volca- 
noes in Ounimak Pass. — St. Michael's, Norton Sound, Alaska. — Sound- 
ings of Behring §ea. — Plover Bay, Eastern Siberia. — TheTchuktchis. — 
Tents. — Canoes. — Tchuktchi Strength. — Children. — The irrepressible 
"Naukum." — Native's Idea of the Telegraph. — The "Shenandoah" 
Pirate. — Avatcha Bay 107 



The Harbor. — Town. — Monuments. — The Fur-trade. — Kamchatka gen- 
erally.— The Volcanoes.— The Attack of the Allies in 1854.— Their Re- 
turn in 1855.— The "General Teste."— Rejoin the Steamer "Wright." 
— Gale. — Incidents of Storm.— Covert's "Smoke-stack" 118 

Contents. xv 



Organization of the Expedition. — Thirsty medical Man. — Our Fleet. — 
Voyage. — Petropaulovski again. — The Russian Corvette. — Russian 
Wedding. — Heat. — International Picnic. — Voyage north. — Behring's 
Voyages. — Shipwreck. — Death of Behring. — Gulf of Anadyr. — The 
" wandering Tchuktchis" Page 132 



Tchuktchi with Letter of Recommendation. — Boat Expedition to the River. 
— Our Explorers. — Their Experiences. — The Anadyr River. — Tchuktchi 
Thieves. — PloverBay. — Nau-kum again. — Advertising in Behring Straits. 
— Telegraph Station erected. — Foraging with a Vengeance. — Whaling. 
— Norton Sound. — Alaska. — Death of Major Kennicott 143 



St. Michael's. — The Fort and its Inhabitants. — The "Provalishik." — 
Russian Steam-bath. — " Total Immersion." — The Island. — Incident of 
Break-up of Ice. — Arrival of dead Indian Sledge-driver. — Steam-boat 
trip. — Steamer laid up. — Russian Post at Unalachleet. — Malemute and 
Kaveak Indians. — Skin Clothing. — Intertribal Commerce. — Trade with 
the Tchuktchis. — Under-ground Houses. — Fishing through the Ice.. 152 



Indian Town-hall.— Preparations for Dance.— Smoke-consuming Indians.— 
Feast.— Dance. — Chorus. — The Malemutes and Kaveaks.— The Chiefs. — 
"Parka Mania." — Erection of Quarters. — Preparations for Sledge- 
journey 165 



Routes to the Yukon. — Sledges and Dogs. — Our Start. — Our Party. — Una- 
lachleet River. — Brought to a Stand-still. — Dogs desert. — Ingelete In- 
dians. — Under-ground Houses, etc. — Beans versus Rice. — Indian Clean- 
liness. — Medical Aid. — Ulukuk. — The River. — Indian Trading 171 

xvi Contents. 


sledge-journey to the yukon — continued. 

Cross theUlukuk River. — Walking on Snow-shoes. — Ulukuk Mountains. — 
Land travelling. — Versola Sofka.— Patent Camp. — Our frozen Breath. 
— Indian Honesty. — The Use of Snow-shoes. — Warm Springs. — First 
Glimpse of the Yukon. — Coltog. — Old " Stareek." — Travel on the Yu- 
kon. — AlikofT's " Barabba." — Meet a Russian Sledge-train. — Arrival at 
Nulato Page 182 



First Explorers of the Yukon. — Nulato. — Our Quarters. — Water-sledge — 
Fish-traps. — Winter Sketching. — Frozen Provisions. — Coldest Day.-— 
Departure of a Sledge-train. — Dinner-party. — Indian Arrivals.— Short- 
est Day. — Merry Christmas. — Bill of Fare. — Aurora. — Temperatures. — 
Supplies. — Principal Winter Trip of our Explorers t 193 



Co-yukon Tribe. — Fashions. — The Nulato Massacre. — Incidents of the 
Attack. — Indian Murders. — Mourning Observances. — " Wake." — Four- 
post Coffins, — Superstitions. — " Corralling " deer. — News travels fast. — 
Furs and Trading. — Indian Women. — Indian " Goggles." — Children's 
Dolls 204 



Spring. — Thaw. — Break-up of the Yukon. — Preparations for Journey. — 
Oar Canoes. — Start. — Dangerous Condition of River. — Its Size. — 
Current. — Perilous Navigation. — Submerged Islands. — Co-yukuk. — 
Birch-bark Fleet. — Sachertelontin. — Lagoon. — Newicargut. — Purchase 
of Supplies. — Tooth-brush Experiences. — Medicine-making. — Indian 
Dissipation. — Child's birch-bark Chair 216 


canoe journey {continued). — ASCENT OP THE YUKON. 

Meet a Deserter. — Indian Taste for " Nigger " Minstrelsy. — Tracking. — La- 
goon. — Piles of Drift-wood. — Nuclukayette.— Unsophisticated Indians. — 
Ceremony. — Leave the Russians. — The Indian's Head. — Mountain 
Gorge — Indian Dogs. — Canoe Leak. — The Rapids. — The "Ram- 
parts." — Moose-hunting. — Islands. — Overhanging Banks. — Shallows. — 
Shortest Night. — First English Indians. — Porcupine River. — Fort 
Yukon 234 

Contents. xvii 



Return of the Commander and Missionary. — Information received from 
them. — Mackenzie and the Yukon. — The Indians. — Numerous Tribes. — 
The Furs. — Fictitious Black Fox. — Missionary Work. — Return of our 
Explorers from the Upper Yukon. — Fort Yukon Sledges, etc. Page 251 



Drifting down the Stream.— Yukon Salmon. — Arrival at Nulato. — Over- 
* dose of Arsenic and Alcohol. — Trip resumed. — Indian Music. — Anvic. — 
The Mission. — Earthquake on the Water. — Andreavski. — The Mouths 
of the Yukon. — Smith's Observations. — Pastolik. — St. Michael's. — Prog- 
ress of the Telegraph. — Frozen Soil. — Scurvy. — Arrival of our Bark. — 
Plover Bay. — Return to San Francisco ' 262 



The Value of Alaska. — The Furs and Fisheries. — The Purchase an Act of 
Justice to Russia. — The Aleutian Islands. — Volcanoes. — Bogoslov Isl- 
and. — The Asiatic Origin of the Esquimaux. — The Tchuktchis. — Sea- 
going Canoes. — The Voyages of two Japanese Junks. — The connecting 
Links between the Tchuktchis and the Esquimaux. — Language. — De- 
generation of the Esquimaux. — Community of Goods. — The " Scha- 1 
man " and the "Angekok." 274 



Major Abasa appointed Chief. — Arrival in Petropaulovski. — Travels in Kam- 
chatka. — Ghijega. — The Town, etc. — Route between Ghijega and 
Ochotsk. — The Explorations of Mahood and Bush. — Nicolaiefski, 
Mouth of the. Amoor. — Travel to Ochotsk. — Reindeer-riding. — The 
Tunguse. — Ayan. — Ochotsk. — M'Creaand Arnold's Wanderings amonp 
the Tchuktchis.— Anadyrsk 286 



California in 1849. — To-day. — Agricultural Progress. — Wine Manufacture. 
— Climate. — Lower California. — San Francisco. — No Paper-money. — 
Coinage. — Growth. — General Prosperity. — Scarcitv of Labor. — Hiring 


xviii Contents. 

a Domestic. — Luxuries of the Land. — " The Mission." — Hotel Carte. — 
Home for the Inebriates. — Immigration desired. — Newspapers. — Chinese 
Population. — " John's " Status. — John as a Miner. — Dead Chinamen. — 
Celestia Entertainment. — Merchant's Pigtail... ....Page 297 


California — continued. 

San Francisco Society. — Phraseology. — Ladies of Fr'isco. — Sunday in the 
City. — Free Criticism on Parsons. — Site. — Steep Streets. — San Fran- 
cisco Calves. — Earthquakes. — House-moving. — Fire Companies. — 
"Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express. "—The three-cent Stamps.— The Men of 
the Pacific 309 



Early American Opinions of the Country. — California Steamers. — The Pub- 
lic Lands. — Extent. — Price. — Labor. — Wages. — The Wine Interests. — 
Table of Temperatures. — Vineyards, etc. — Classes suitable for Immi- 
grants. — Education.— "Schools. — School-ma'ams. — Investments 319 


I. — The Proposed Overland Route from the Atlantic to the 

Pacific, through British Territory.. 333 

II.— The W. U. Telegraph Scheme 336 

III.— Notes on Sitka..... 338 

IV. — Port Clarence, Northern Alaska 339 

V. — Indian Dialects of Northern Alaska 341 

VI. — Notes on the Geology of the Yukon..... 351 


Auroral Light seen from Nulato, Yukon River, Dec. 27, 1866 Frontispiece. 

Vignette — Loading a sledge in Alaska Title-page. 

Map — the course of the Yukon, etc ....To face Chap. I. 


The Great Glacier, Bute Inlet 43 

Island forest" conflagration in the Gulf of Georgia. 51 

The "Raft Rampant" 69 

Aht native, west coast of Vancouver Island „ 75 

Example of mask worn by Aht natives of Vancouver Island...,. 77 

Camp with "blaze" or camp-mark 85 

Sitka, or New Archangel, capital of Alaska 95 

Kalosh Indian grave-boxes 101, 102 

Indian stone-carving, representing a Russian soldier at Sitka 105 

Tchuktchi skin canoe — Frame-work of Tchuktchi house 112 

Tchuktchi pipe 115 

Petropaulovski, Kamchatka 119 

Monument to Behring, Petropaulovski 121 

The volcanoes of Koriatski, Avatcha, and Koseldskai, Kamchatka 123 

Fort St. Michael's, or Michaelovski 153 

Malemute native 159 

Malemute skin clothing 160 

Malemute pipe v 166 

Diagram of under-ground house 175 

Snow-shoe 182 

Arrival at the Frozen Yukon 188 

Fish-traps on the Yukon , 195 

Co-yukon four-post coffin , 208 

A Co-yukon deer corral 210 

Co-yukon goggles 214 

The Yukon River at the break-up of the ice 222 

Indian summer encampment, Newicargut, Yukon River 227 

Yukon fire-bag, knife, and sheath, etc 230 

Indian child's birch-bark chair 233 

Tanana Indian 238 

Moose-hunting in the Yukon River 244 

Yukon Indian's knife 247 

Fort Yukon, Hudson's Bay Company's Post 250 

Fort Yukon sledge (loaded) 261 

^S Shti/' 

n ex- 




S u 

4^« 6 

^ ^ v 






Leaving England. — Our Passengers. — Old Mo'. — Freight for the matrimo- 
nial Market. — Storm on board. — Mutiny. — Volunteer coal-heaving. — 
Falkland Islands. — Port Stanley. — The Horn. — Out of Coal. — San Fran- 
cisco. — The Straits of Fuca. — Cook. — Vancouver. — Juan de Fuca. — 
Victoria. — Cariboo Mines. — The Gold. — The Discoverers of William's 
Creek. — Journalism on the Pacific. 

In 1862, the Pacific coast, and especially British Co- 
lumbia, attracted much attention at home. Having, thank 
G-od, like a good proportion of my countrymen, a little su- 
perfluous energy — which was then lying fallow — I deter-, 
mined to see something of those coasts, and accordingly 
commenced getting together my traps for the voyage. I 
need not say that I laid in a stock of things said to be 
"portable," essential, or absolutely "indispensable," and 
that the larger part of them proved to be exactly the re- 
verse. Such, I take it, is the experience of most young 
travellers. On the 6th June of the above-mentioned year 
— with some slight feelings of regret, it must be admitted — 
we left the Thames ; and on the 9th saw the last of Old 
England's shores, after a brief halt at peaceful, sleepy Dart- 
mouth. A few hours later, the " waves," to use an ex- 

rim h\ 





Leaving England. — Our Passengers.— Old Mo'. — Freight for the matrimo- 
nial Market. — Storm on board. — Mutiny. — Volunteer coal-heaving. — 
Falkland Islands. — Port Stanley. — The Horn. — Out of Coal. — San Fran- 
cisco. — The Straits of Fuca. — Cook. — Vancouver. — Juan de Fuca. — 
Victoria. — Cariboo Mines. — The Gold. — The Discoverers of William's 
Creek. — Journalism on the Pacific. 

In 1862, the Pacific coast, and especially British Co- 
lumbia, attracted much attention at home. Having, thank 
Grod, like a good proportion of my countrymen, a little su- 
perfluous energy — which was then lying fallow — I deter-, 
mined to see something of those coasts, and accordingly 
commenced getting together my traps for the voyage. I 
need not say that I laid in a stock of things said to be 
"portable," essential, or absolutely "indispensable," and 
that the larger part of them proved to be exactly the re- 
verse. Such, I take it, is the experience of most young 
travellers. On the 6th June of the above-mentioned year 
— with some slight feelings of regret, it must be admitted — 
we left the Thames ; and on the 9th saw the last of Old 
England's shores, after a brief halt at peaceful, sleepy Dart- 
mouth. A few hours later, the " waves," to use an ex- 

22 Leaving England. 

pression of Lamartine's when starting on a cruise in the 
Mediterranean, "had our destinies in their power," and 
made us aware of the fact. 

"Winds are rude in Biscay's sleepless bay :" 

At least we found them so, for a breeze increased into a 
gale before we were clear of its outer waters. Our craft 
was a stanch iron-screw steamer, the " Tynemouth," which 
had won a good reputation during the Crimean War by 
weathering out that terrible storm in the Black Sea in 
which so many vessels (including the "Black Prince") 
were lost. We were bound for Yancouver Island, via the 
Horn, and expected to call at one or two ports by the way. 
On board were some three hundred passengers, two-thirds 
of whom showed a total loss of dignity and self-respect 
during these early days, and made our vessel much resem- 
ble a floating hospital. But there is an end to all things ; 
and by the time we reached the tropics, our friends had 
recovered their appetites, and, clad in light attire, lounged, 
smoking, chatting, and reading under the awnings, giving 
our decks the appearance of a nautical picnic. Our pas- 
sengers were a study in themselves. They included a 
number of young men, much too large a proportion of 
whom had apparently no profession, business, or definite 
aim in life, to auger well for their future career in a new 
country, Still, most branches were represented — from 
farmers, tradesmen, and mechanics, to lawyers, artists, and 
literary men. The greatest character on board was a ven- 
erable Jew, generally known as " Old Mo'." He was an 
Israelite of the conventional stage type, and did not neglect 
turning a penny by selling to the passengers stale lemons 
and bad cigars, or by organizing raffles and mock auctions. 
Toward the end of the voyage he purchased all the odds 
and ends on which he could lay his hands, offering the 

Our Passengers. • 28 

" highestch prishe for old closhe and zhewellry ;" and with 
these he afterward stocked a small shop in Victoria. Moses, 
like Shylock, had much to stand in gibes and sneers, but 
bore it " with a patient shrug." 

Our most noticeable living freight was, however, an 
"invoice" of sixty young ladies, destined for the colonial 
and matrimonial market. They had been sent out by a 
home society, under the watchful care of a clergyman and 
matron ; and they must have passed the dreariest three 
months of their existence on board, for they were isolated 
from the rest of the passengers, and could only look on at 
the fun and amusements in which every one else could take 
a part. Every benevolent effort deserves respect; but, 
from personal observation, I can not honestly recommend 
such a mode of supplying the demands of a colony. Half 
of them married soon after arrival or went into sendee, but 
a large proportion quickly went to the bad, and, from ap- 
pearances, had been there before. The influence of but a 
few such on the more respectable girls could not have been 
otherwise than detrimental. To speak ungallantly, but 
truly, many of these ladies were neither young nor beau- 
tiful, and reminded me of the crowd who answered the ad- 
vertisement in the farce of "Wanted 10,000 Milliners!" 
Of course much might be said about giving the poor crea- 
tures a chance ! but the fact is that the market would, in - 
the course of affairs, more naturally supply itself. The 
prosperous settler would send for his sweetheart, or come 
home in search of one, and could always get suitable do- 
mestics sent out by his friends, and meet them at the port 
of arrival. It will be readily understood too, that in a new 
country there is a floating population, among whom some 
individuals by "chance" or by industry have acquired a 
little money, and are ready to plunge into matrimony on 
the slightest provocation ; while there is also a large pro- 

24 Mutiny on Boaed. 

portion of "black sheep," who are quite ready to amuse 
themselves at the expense of the poor girls. 

We were beginning to find life somewhat tedious, when 
a storm arose on hoard that altered the aspect of affairs. In 
common with a large proportion of ships — as far as my ex- 
perience goes — we were considerably undermanned, and 
the overworked crew rebelled. They came aft to the cap- 
tain, and a scene ensued in which very high words passed, 
and at length one of the more daring mutineers " planted" 
(to use the language of the fraternity) a blow between the 
skipper's "peepers," which brought the "claret" very free- 
ly from his nose. In consequence, the fiat went forth, 
instantly and indignantly, " Put them in irons I" which 
was, however, a thing easier said than done. At last the 
officers — with the assistance of some of the passengers — 
succeeded in handcuffing the rebels, and they were then 
stowed away in a rather warm compartment near the en- 
gine-room till such time as mutiny should be melted out 
of them. 

Our captain was in a dilemma. "We were almost be- 
calmed ; our sails flapped idly in the wind, while the ar- 
rangements for the coals were such that, with these men 
off duty, our engine must soon come to a stand-still. The 
coal was chiefly in the fore-hold, and had to be raised, 
wheeled along deck, and deposited in the "bunkers." 

At this juncture a.committee of the passengers was con- 
vened, and it was agreed that the more active of all classes 
should be invited to volunteer, and act as crew for the time 
being. All the younger men came forward readily, were 
solemnly enrolled, and set to work at once, glad of an in- 
terruption to the monotony of the voyage. We scrubbed 
the decks, hauled at ropes, filled the coal-sacks, and hoisted 
them on deck, getting a fair taste of a modern sailor's life 
o"n board a steam-vessel. It is more than doubtful whether 

Volunteer Coal-Heaving. 2o 

any of us would have echoed the words of England's sea- 
song writer, who says — 

" Then, Bill, let us thank Providence 
That you and I are sailors !" 

but we found it good exercise, and worked with a will. Did 
we not know that the eyes of sixty maidens were looking 
on approvingly as we helped them on to the consummation 
of their dearest wishes ? "We did, and even our parson cred- 
itably proved his " muscular Christianity," and soiled his 
irreproachable garments at one and the same time. I tasted 
the dignity of labor in the role of an amateur coal-heaver, 
and in the more sinecure employment of keeping the " look- 
out." We cooled our fevered frames with libations of beer, 
and buckets of diluted lime-juice ; in this matter having an 
undoubted advantage over the old crew, who didn't get 
much of such luxuries. At last the tropical heat, superadd- 
ed to that of the furnaces, brought the men to their senses, 
and the larger part of them went back to work ; three, 
however, held out, and were kept in irons. 

After some rough weather off the Eio de la Plata (known 
familiarly by sailors as the Kiver Plate), in which we stove 
in our bulwarks and lost a boat, we at last made the Falk- 
land Islands, and came to an anchor in Stanley Harbor. 
This is a land-locked basin some six miles long by half a 
mile or so wide, and is on East Falkland. We arrived 
there early in August, but it was the end of their winter. 
The snow had just disappeared from the lowlands, leaving 
them in places very swampy. The island was thick with 
peat-moss, which affords the inhabitants their only fuel, no 
timber except a very limited amount of drift-wood being- 
attainable. There are no trees whatever on the Falklands, 
and it is said that attempts to introduce them have been 
unsuccessful. It was from these islands that Col. Moody, 
when colonial governor, brought the " Tussac " grass. 

26 The Falkland Islands. 

The Falklands had been in the hands of both the Spanish 
and French before we obtained possession of them, and they 
were not formerly valued as they are now. Port Stanley is 
a pretty little town of 700 or 800 inhabitants, with a church, 
government buildings, and school-house. Vessels returning 
from China, Australia, or California, find these islands di- 
rectly in their course, and often put into Port Stanley for 
repairs, water, coal, or supplies. Vegetables and fresh meat 
are abundant, the latter selling for twopence or threepence 
a pound. The cattle on the islands are very numerous, and 
for the most part wild ; they were introduced by the Span- 
iards. Stanley was a free port at the date of our visit, and 
our passengers took advantage of the fact to lay in stocks 
of hollands and brandy, much to the disgust of our steward, 
who firmly believed in monopoly. 

As our ship's cow had given up the ghost — frightened to 
death in a storm — and the fowls were things of the past, we 
were all glad to get ashore, luxuriate on milk and fresh 
provisions, and stretch our legs. An English company had 
— and I presume has — a large store there, and exported 
hides and furs, employing some 150 persons directly, and 
a larger number indirectly, in their collection. Our vessel 
coaled at this settlement. 

We spent several days in excursions from the ship, 
shooting wild-fowl, and amusing ourselves with watching 
the penguin, which were very abundant. On the beach, 
when waddling away from us in a hurry, they suggested 
the idea of old women tripping over the stones with many 
a fall ! We visited the excellent light-house at Cape Pem- 
broke, the easternmost point of East Falkland, about eight 
miles from the port. Here we found the keeper's wife, with 
a family of youngsters, some of whom had never seen even 
the glories of Port Stanley, and yet were happy. The light- 
house, 110 feet in height, stands at the termination of a bar- 

Cape Horn. 27 

ren sand waste, and the beach near it is everywhere strewed 
with kelp and sea-weed of the most enormous growth, re- 
sembling, in fact, sea trees. Kelp is so thick in some parts 
of the harbor that it is next to impossible to row through it. 

Our mutineers were tried in due form, and sentenced to 
a spell of hard labor, which in this case consisted of amateur 
gardening, and sanding the floors of the government build- 
ings. They were apparently rather glad than otherwise of 
a brief residence in a place where fresh food was so abun- 
dant, and knew moreover that the next vessel touching 
there short-handed would probably be glad to take them at 
higher wages than those ruling in the port of London. 

We were detained — partly by bad weather — for twelve 
days, but at last the favorable moment arrived, and we 
steamed out in good style. In the evening of the same 
day we passed Staten Land, over the rugged shores of 
which a canopy of mist hung gracefully. In the valleys a 
lace- work of snow still remained. Next morning we were 
in the Pacific, in sight of the broken, jagged coast of the 
famed and dreaded "Horn." The weather was superb, 
the sea almost a lake, and the regulation terrors of the pas- 
sage were nowhere ! For the reader's sake, this was a 
great pity, but our passengers felt a kind of relief from the 
lingering dread of the more usual bad weather of the Cape. 
We soon got the " trade- winds," set all sail, and knocked 
off steam. 

Before we made the Californian coast the wind died out, 
and having again to steam, our coal got reduced to the last 
gasp. All loose wood on deck, and even some valuable 
spars, had to be cut up for the furnaces, and the day before 
our arrival in San Francisco it was seriously contemplated 
to strip the second and third cabins of their berths and fur- 

But if we had been glad to go ashore at the Falklands, 

28 Straits of Fuca. 

how much more so were we to land in San Francisco, to 
walk about its handsome streets, and enjoy its good things. 
Some of our passengers were so well satisfied with it that 
they abandoned all idea of going any farther, and others, 
who could not imagine that our captain would start from it 
in such a hurry, were in consequence left behind. Of San 
Francisco I shall speak in my concluding chapters. I have 
watched its growth for five years, and believe its history to 
be almost unexampled among cities that have arisen in 
modern times, and that its future teems with the greatest 

Kesuming our trip, we at length reached Cape Flattery 
and the Straits of Fuca, and obtained a first glimpse of the 
interminable forests on Vancouver Island, that were to be 
the home of some of us for many a day. As late as the 
days of Cook, it was believed that Vancouver Island was a 
part of the main-land, and it was so laid down in the atlas 
accompanying his great work. The Straits of Fuca were in 
effect so named in 1792 by Vancouver, after 'their real dis- 
coverer, Juan de Fuca, an old Greek sailor, whose preten- 
sions in regard to their exploration were long scoffed at by 
geographers. Cook sailing up the coast of New Albion, 
now known as Oregon and Washington Territory, reached 
the promontory which has always since borne the name he 
gave it — Cape Flattery. "It is in this very latitude," says 
he, " where we now were, that geographers have placed the 
pretended Straits of Juan de Fuca. But we saw nothing 
like it, nor is there the least probability that ever any such 
thing existed. Tolerably positive language — more espe- 
cially when we know the real facts of the voyage as later 
given to the world by Captain James Burney,* who served 
with Cook on this identical voyage. He says, " After mak- 

* " A Chronological History of North-eastern Voyages of Discovery,' 1 
chap. xix. 

Stkaits of Fuca. , 29 

ing the coast, unfavorable winds and weather forced the 
ships as far south as to 43° ; and when we again made way 
northward, blowing and thick unsettled weather prevented 
our tracing a continuation of the coast, so that between a 
cape in lat. 44° 55' N., named by Captain Cook Cape Foul- 
weather, and a point of land in 48° 15' N., which he named 
Cape Flattery, because the prospect of the land near it gave 
it a doubtful promise of a harbor, we obtained only now 
and then a glimpse of the land. 

" We were near the last-mentioned point on the evening 
of the 22d (March, 1778), and a little before seven o'clock, 
it growing 'dark, Captain Cook tacked to wait for daylight, 
intending to make closer examination ; but before morning 
a hard gale of wind came on, with rainy weather, and we 
were obliged to keep off from the land. At this time a 
port was necessary to both ships to repair the lower rigging, 
as well as to recruit their stock of fresh water. On the 29th, 
in the forenoon, we again made the land. At noon the 
latitude was observed 49° 28' N." The reader who has 
followed me thus far will see that Cook missed the entrance 
to the Straits of Fuca. There is nothing surprising in the 
fact, though there is in his hasty conclusion with regard to 
the existence of a strait. The last latitude is approximate- 
ly that of Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, of which both 
Cook and Burney give us full descriptions. 

Between 1787-9, Captains Berkely, Duncan, Meares, and 
Kendrick — the three first-named English, the latter Ameri- 
can — all confirmed Fuca's discovery by visits which they 
paid to various parts of the Straits ; and one of the ob- 
jects of Vancouver's great voyage was to determine the 
truth of their statements. He arrived in the Straits — the 
supposed Straits of Fuca, as he terms them — on Sunday, 
the 29th April, 1792, and from that date commenced 
the survey which has immortalized his name. On the 

30 Juan De Fuca. 

day of his arrival he met Captain Grey, an American, who 
had made a trip up the Straits, and had been wintering on 
the coast. 

And now let us speak of Fuca, who seems to have been 
in his own day neglected and misunderstood, as he was aft- 
erward doubted and ignored. His real name was Apos- 
tolus Yalerianos ; and all that we know of him is recorded 
in the celebrated work entitled u Purchas his Pilgrimes" 
first published in 1625, under the title of "A note made by 
me, Michael Lok the elder, touching the Strait of the Sea, com- 
monly called Fretum Anian, in the South Sea, through the 
North-west passage of Meta incognita." 

In substance the narrative is as follows : Lok being in 
Venice in 1596, was introduced to a Greek pilot, an old man 
of " three-score yeares," commonly known by his compan- 
ions as Juan de Fuca, although his real name was that re- 
corded above. He said that he had been in the Spanish 
service " fortie yeares, 11 and that, on one of his voyages, he 
had been in the galleon taken off Cape California (? Cape 
St. Lucas) by "Captaine Candlish Englishman, whereby he 
lost sixtie thousand Duckets, of his owne goods." 

In 1592 the Yiceroy of Mexico sent him on a voyage of 
discovery to the Straits which now ' bear his name. He 
followed the coast of California and Oregon, etc., " vntill 
hee came to the latitude of fortie-seuen degrees, and there 
finding that the land trended North and North-'east, with a 
broad Inlet of Sea, betweene 47 and 48 degrees of Latitude : 
hee entered there into, sayling therein more then twentie 
dayes, and found that land trending still, sometime North- 
west and North-east, and North, and also East and South- 
eastward, and very much broader Sea then was at the said 
entrance, and he passed by diuers islands in that sayling. 
And at the entrance of the said Strait, there is on the North- 
west coast thereof, a great Hedland or Island, with an ex- 

Juan De Fuca. 31 

ceeding high. Pinacle, or spired Kock, like a pillar there- 

" Also he said, that he went on Land in diuers places, and 
that he saw some people on Land, clad in Beasts skins : and 
that the Land is very fruitfull, and rich of Gold, Siluer, 
Pearle, and other things, like Noua Spania. 

" And also he said, that he being entered thus farre into 
the said Strait, and being come into the Worth Sea already 
(which means that he had rounded Yancouver Island), and 
finding the Sea wide enough every-where, and to be about 
thirtie or fortie leagues wide in the mouth of the Straits, 
where hee entred, hee thought he had now well discharged 
his office, and done the thing which he was sent to doe ; and 
that hee not being armed to resist the force of the Saluage 
people that might happen, hee therefore set sayle and re- 
turned homewards againe towards Noua Spania, where he 
arrived at Acapulco, Anno 1592." 

The viceroy welcomed him with empty compliments, and 
recommended him to go to Spain, and lay his discoveries 
before the king, " which voyage hee did performe." The 
king received him courteously with "wordes after the 
Spanish manner," but did nothing for him, and giving up 
all hopes of reward, he went to Italy, where Lok met him. 

He there offered to enter the English service, hoping at the 
same time to be remembered in regard to his great loss to 
Candlish. Lok wrote immediately to Lord-treasurer Cecil, 
Sir Walter Ealeigh, and Master Kichard Hakluit, the geog- 
rapher, asking them to forward £100 to fetch Fuca to En- 
gland, he not being in a position to afford it. Answer came 
that the idea was well liked, but the money not being forth- 
coming, the matter was allowed to drop. Later, Lok — who 
had been English consul at Aleppo — corresponded with 
Fuca, and when himself in the Island of Zante, wrote to 
Cephalonia, offering to take the old pilot at his own expense 

32 Victoria, Vancouver Island. 

to England. But poor old Fuca was by this time — Christ- 
mas, 1602 — dead, or at the point of death, and we lost the 
chance of making an early discovery of an important coast. 

The Straits of Fuca have been often described, and I will 
not enlarge upon the subject. Although the scenery is in 
parts very beautiful, and occasionally grand, there is a 
monotony about them inseparable from pine-forests, rocks, 
and islands. We soon arrived off Esquimalt, obtained a 
pilot, and entered the harbor, now one of our most impor- 
tant naval stations in the Pacific, as it is also one of the 
healthiest. It is, in effect, the port of Victoria, as only mod- 
erate-sized vessels can safely enter the harbor of the latter 
place, owing to a bar at its entrance. 

Of Victoria, in which town I spent three winters, what 
shall I say ? Its career has been a forced and unhealthy 
one, and it is at the present day suffering from the effects. 
For a time, indeed, the British Columbian mines gave it an 
impetus, and had there been a really good agricultural 
country in the neighborhood, it would have doubtless be- 
come a permanently prosperous settlement. But although 
Victoria has much in its favor — a climate almost unsurpass- 
ed, provisions abundant and cheap, and fair facilities of 
communication with neighboring countries — it has dwindled 
down to a very low ebb indeed. I may be excused for 
alluding to one fact well known in the colony, although 
most writers on the subject have persistently ignored it. It 
is this : that men who have made large fortunes in the 
mines and other ways — and there have been many such — 
do not, as a rule, become settlers in that country. In Aus- 
tralia and California they do become attached to the soil ; 
they find abundance of available and open lands, and end 
by becoming prosperous and contented residents. This 
point is of great importance. The discovery of minerals, 
however profitable to individuals, will not make a country: 

Victoria, Vancouver Island. 33 

but the discovery of minerals and rich lands fit for agricul- 
tural pursuits may do so.* 

I spent many pleasant days in Victoria : it was my rest- 
ing-place in the intervals between many lengthened journeys. 
It is a very bright, clean, well-built little town, with all the 
latest improvements. There are Episcopal, Dissenting, and 
Roman Catholic churches, a mechanics' institute, theatre, 
and gas-works. There are many private and public socie- 
ties, masonic, national, or charitable ; and the traveller can 
always be sure of much hospitality if he comes with good 
credentials. The naval gentlemen from Esquimalt give 
life and tone to the society of the place, while the active or 
retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company are its 
principal residents. This company has in Victoria a very 
fine warehouse and wharves, and now does a miscellaneous 
business, in addition to the collection of furs. 

Our fellow-passengers, who had come to make a rapid 
and gigantic fortune in Cariboo, now for the most part 
awoke to the fact that the mines were yet some five hundred 
miles away, and out of our list of three hundred persons 
not more than twenty-five ever reached the Northern El 
Dorado. When, in 1863, I made a sketching and pedes- 
trian tour to that district, I met some of my fellow-passen- 
gers already on the way down, disgusted and crest-fallen. 
They knew nothing of mining, and their only chance of ob- 

* The main-land of this now united colony, British Columbia, has a fair 
amount of good land. The governor, in a recent blue book, says, "The 
most important advance made by British Columbia in 1866 was the rapid 
development of agriculture, occasioned by the increasing number of wagon- 
roads and other communications. Home-manufactured flour of superior 
quality is already taking the place of the imported article. Use is being 
made of fhe magnificent timber covering the sides of the harbors and inlets; 
and spars and lumber of superior quality were exported in 1866 to the value 
of £10, 000. The yield of gold in the year is roughly estimated at £600,000: 
and as there were certainly not more than three thousand miners engaged, 
the average product reached £200 per man — far exceeding any average 
ever reaehed in California or Australia." 


84 Cariboo Mines. 

taining an interest in a company was in the same way as in 
Cornwall or Wales — by buying it. This, too, was a rather 
shaky undertaking. If bought on the spot, there was a 
great probability that the ground was " salted " — a technical 
term for a well-known ruse, that of scattering a few ounces 
of gold among the dirt ; the seller (true in a double sense) 
rediscovering it there before the victim's eyes. He did not 
always get even this satisfaction ; fragments of brass can- 
dlesticks and Dutch metal have sometimes done duty for 
the precious deposit, and it is said that Chinese miners are 
excellent at manufacturing fictitious nuggets and quartz 

A friend of mine purchased in Yictoria a share in a 
Cariboo mine, and, on arrival there, was unable to find or 
hear of any traces of it. It existed only on paper. On the 
other hand Cariboo was, and still is, a very rich field. A 
single company once realized 180 lbs. of gold as the. result 
of one day's work * I have myself seen 200 oz. collected 
from the "dump-box," as the proceeds of one "shift," or 
eight hours' work. Much of this kind of thing has been 
already laid before the public, but the deductions made 
therefrom have not been by any means correct. The fact 
is, that in a large number of cases the working expenses 
were very heavy, and one, two, or even three seasons' work 
had often to be first expended before there were any re- 
turns. The price of provisions at the date of my visit 
averaged all round a dollar (4s. 2d) a pound, and labor 
commanded ten dollars a day. Even the hardy pioneers, 
men who had been "broken in" in California or Australia, 
were by no means universally lucky. The fate of the dis- 

* For the week ending July 9, 1865, the Ericsson Company took out 
1400 oz. The following week reached still higher— 1926 oz., worth over 
£6000. I well remember the first gold "struck" in that claim, and the 
general surprise that any thing whatever was to be found in that locality. 

Eisks of Gold-Mining. 35 

coverers of" William's Creek," the richest valley in Cariboo, 
is a case in point. One of them, William Dietz, a German, 
broken down by hardship and exposure, was dependent on 
charity while I was in Victoria ; and the second, Kose, a 
Scotchman, died of starvation in the woods, and was after- 
ward found by horror-stricken friends. On his tin cup he 
had attempted to record his sufferings by scratching thereon 
a few broken words. 

Of my experiences on the grand Cariboo road, a work 
of great engineering skill, especially in the canons of the 
Fraser, of that great river itself, of lakes, forests and torrents, 
" ranches " and road-side houses, I could relate enough to 
fill this volume, but will say nothing,* for the very good 
reason that the country has already been admirably de- 
scribed in the work of Lord Milton and Dr. Cheadle.f These 
gentlemen' went over exactly the same ground, and have 
presented a faithful picture of the whole as far as the sub- 
ject can possibly interest the public. The succeeding 
chapters contain some account of my trips in other and less 
known parts of the same country, while the bulk of this 
volume describes visits paid to much more northern climes. 

* But I must mention one fact interesting in the history of journalism on 
the Pacific. In 1865 a small newspaper was started in the mines, and was 
named " The Cariboo Sentinel." It consisted of one (foolscap) sheet of four 
pages, and, with an occasional supplement, sold at one dollar (is. 2d.) a 
copy ! The editor, Mr. Wallace, whom I knew well, was the all-in-all of 
the office. He was his own compositor, pressman, advertisement agent, 
publisher, and collector, and doubtless would have been his own paper-maker 
on the spot if rags had been less valuable ! He was very successful, in a 
pecuniary point of view, and afterward sold the concern to some one else. 
He then commenced the publication of a paper at the town of Yale, in the 
canons of the Fraser, and has since returned to England, having retired 
with a competency. 

f Capt. Mayne's "Four Years in British Columbia," a very reliable and 
interesting work, touches on the same subject. 

36 Bute Inlet. 


The Mountains of British Columbia and adjacent Coasts. — Bute Inlet. — 
Chilicoten Indians. — A "Blow-up." — Indian Packets. — Route through 
the Forest. — Indian Guide. — Chinook Jargon. — Trackless Forests. — 
Lost in the Woods. — The glacier Streams. — Camp. — Great Glacier. — 
Description. — Return Journey. — Second Glacier. 

A glance at the map of British Columbia shows us one 
of the most broken jagged coast-lines in the world, with 
arms of the sea innumerable, into each of which some river, 
small or large, finds its way. These streams, fed by numer- 
ous tributaries, born of the snow and ice, pass through the 
valleys of the Cascade and coast ranges, bordering on the 
Gulf of Georgia, Straits of Fuca, and adjacent coast. The 
general character of these mountain-ranges is Alpine ; per- 
petual snow reigns in their, upper regions, and glaciers exist 
in their valleys. Such are known to exist at the Stekine 
River in particular. 

A direct route from the coast into the Cariboo mines by 
the way of Bute Inlet had been projected and partly carried 
out in the year 1864 ; and in consequence the writer was 
induced to visit this otherwise inaccessible country. A 
schooner, with men and supplies on board, left Victoria, 
Vancouver Island, on the 16th March of that year, and he 
then took the opportunity, kindly given him by the pro- 
jector of the road, Mr. Alfred Waddington, of paying the 
glaciers a visit. 

Omitting all details of a tedious passage, we arrived at 
Bute Inlet on the 22d March, and getting a fair breeze, we 

Chilicoten Indians. 37 

made the mouth of the Homathco Kiver the same day. On 
entering the inlet, the transition from the low, rocky islands 
of the Gulf of Georgia to the precipitous, snow-capped 
mountains of the main-land was very marked. The skip- 
per, who knew the Norway coast, said that it exactly re- 
sembled the scenery of the " Fiords." The snow, then fast 
melting, yielded many a streamlet which glided peacefully 
through the forest to the sea, and many a thundering cata- 
ract which fell over bare and abrupt cliffs. Near the river 
some Chilicoten Indians paddled out in their canoes, and 
came on board to get a free ride. They had rings through 
their noses, were much painted, and wore the inevitable blan- 
ket of the coast. For the rest, there was nothing very char- 
acteristic in their costume; some having a shirt without 
breeches, some breeches without a shirt. Two of them were 
picturesque, with wolf-skin robes, hair turned inward, and 
the outer side adorned with fringes of tails derived from 
marten or squirrel. Among them one old hag attracted 
some notice, from her repulsive appearance and the short 
pipe which she seemed to enjoy. 

On nearing a small wharf already erected at the mouth of 
the river, a solitary white man, Mr. C , made his appear- 
ance, and was evidently glad to see us. He had been left 
in charge of stores, mules, etc., during winter, and the In- 
dians had at times threatened his life. 

An amusing incident had occurred during his stajr. He 
had missed many small things from his log-house, and could 
not catch the thief, whoever he might be, but who he had 
reason to believe must have entered the cabin by the large 
open chimney. At last he got a friend to go inside with a 
quarter of a pound of gunpowder, and locking the door, 
made pretense of leaving, but crept back near the house to 
watch the result. Soon an Indian came stealthily along, 
sa?is culottes, sans every thing. He climbed on the roof, and 

38 A "Blow-up." 

got nearly down the chimney, when the man inside threw 
the powder on the smouldering ashes, and off it went. 
The Indian went off also! and with a terrific yell ; but over 
his condition a veil must be drawn. He afforded for some 
time afterward a very wholesome warning to his tribe, being 
unable to sit or lie down. 

These people appeared to be very bare of provisions, and 
disputed with their wretched "cayota" dogs anything that 
we threw out of our camp, in the shape of bones, bacon-rind, 
or tea-leaves, and similar luxuries. Many of them were 
subsequently employed in packing goods on their backs, 
always carrying- their loads fixed to a strap which came 
round and over their foreheads. As they would pack 100 
lbs. and upward this way, their heads must be regarded as 
tolerably strong and thick ! Some of them were also em- 
ployed in building the road. 

After making sundry arrangements, we started up. The 
route lay through a magnificent forest of cedar,* hemlock, 
and Douglas pine, individual specimens of which almost 
rivalled the " big trees " of California. One of the cedars 
measured forty-five feet in circumference at the butt (about 
the height from the ground of a man's chest). Although the 
snow lay on the ground so thickly that the heavily-laden 
pack-train of mules could hardly proceed without a path 
being cleared for them, the musquitoes were already out in 
full force. So abundant were they that the writer took nine 
from the back of his hand at one pinch between finger and 
thumb. They bit through any thing from blankets to cord 

* Cedar, as it is popularly known on the coast, is the Thuja gigantea of 
botanists. Douglas pine, Abies Douglasii, and hemlock (Abies Bridgei, 
"Proc. California Acad. Natural Sciences," vol. ii.), maple (Ace?- wacrophyl- 
lum), alder (Alnus Oregana), white pine (Pinus strohusf), and spruce (Abies 
Menziesii), are also common trees of the coast. For these scientific names I 
am indebted to Mr. Brown,, with whom I was afterward associated on the 
Vancouver Island expedition. 

Indian Guide. 39 

unmentionables, and against their inflictions there was liter- 
ally " nothing like leather." 

The road followed more or less the river valley, the scen- 
ery of which was not seen to advantage till, after crossing 
the stream by a rope-ferry, we commenced the ascent of a 
mountain by a zigzag trail, in order to avoid the passage of 
a rock-girt canon. From this the views were superb. Pur- 
ple cliffs rose — pine-clad and abrupt — while below the Ho- 
mathco made its way to the sea, realizing the words of our 

"Waters between walls 
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass." 

Afar off, snow-crowned peaks and blue valleys completed 
the picture. 

On the 19th April, having arrived at the farthest camp 
of the constructing party, I engaged an Indian who was sup- 
posed to know the country well, and started with him for the 
Great Glacier. The Chinook jargon, the only medium of 
converse with these Indians, has no equivalent for "glacier." 
It could only be expressed by hyu ice, hyu snow — " plenty 
of ice and snow ;" and I was very much in the fix of a dig- 
nitary of the Church on that coast, who began an address to 
the Indians with " Children of the forest," but was rather 
disgusted to find his interpreter could only render it, Hyu 
tenass man copa stick — " Many little men among the sticks 
(or stumps!)" I could not make the man thoroughly under- 
stand, and after two days' wandering it became obvious that 
it would be better to return and seek another guide. We 
accordingly returned, and, having secured the services of an 
Indian of some intelligence — Tellot by name — an old chief, 
I again started ; this time, as it proved, with more success. 

Few can have any conception of the old forests through 
which our course lay who have not themselves seen such. 
Thick with living vegetation, they were equally so with de- 

40 Trackless Forests. 

cay and death. Now an immense fallen trunk, over which 
we had to climb, blocked the path, now one under which 
we were obliged to creep, and now and again an accumula- 
tion of the same, the effect of some wintry storm or natural 
death. Here, as the tree falls so it lies, and has lain undis- 
turbed for ages. Hence, a log, green with moss, suddenly 
collapsed as we trod on it, and we were half-buried in tinder. 
Prickly thickets were common. 

Men have frequently been lost in the woods of this coun- 
try for long periods ; and some, unable to discover a way 
out from them, have suffered protracted and painful deaths. 

In 1865 a merchant of Victoria went out on an excursion- 
trip on the occasion of the queen's birthday, and landed with 
others at Sooke Harbor — a place sixteen miles from the 
town, and where, as is common on Vancouver Island, the 
forest is extremely dense. Being rather short-sighted, he 
wandered off a trail, and was six days in the woods without 

A party of sixty men, among whom was the writer, vol- 
unteered to go in search of him, and made a detailed exam- 
ination of the locality, proceeding in the manner of riflemen 
when " extended," with as much regularity as was possible 
in that broken country, thick with timber and underbrush, 
and where you often could not see the next man ten feet 
off. But these efforts were entirely unsuccessful, although 
continued for several days ; and eventually this gentleman 
wandered out again on the ill-defined trail, and was found 
there — in total ignorance of the fact — by some hunters pass- 
ingby. It need not be said that he was in a very exhausted 
state. He had heard the bugle-calls and shouts of the 
searching party, but was at the time in too feeble a condition 
to make himself heard. On the fourth day he had made 
his will, and having no paper, had written it in pencil on 
his white handkerchief! 

Lost i*n the Woods. 41 

Later the same year Mr. Butler, an explorer, in a different 
branch of the same service as the writer — the Kusso- Ameri- 
can Telegraph Expedition — was lost for nearly two weeks 
in Northern British Columbia, near the Upper Fraser. 
He*had, when in pursuit of a Cariboeuf deer, wandered far 
from the camp of his companions, and attempting to retrace 
his steps, found that he had lost his reckoning entirely. In 
order to try and discover a way out of the forest he climbed 
a tree ; but a branch gave way, and he was unfortunate 
enough to fall from it, remaining at its base stunned and 
half-unconscious for two days. At last, partially recovering 
his strength, he managed to reach Fraser Eiver, and to con- 
struct a raft of small logs ; but from his weakness, and 
from the rapidity of the current, he was unable to manage 
it, and it left him at last stuck on a bar of the river, with the 
pleasure of seeing it float away in the distance. He, how- 
ever, reached the bank, and took to the slower but surer 
mode of following the course of the river by land through 
the woods and thickets. He at length reached a small 
"clearing" owned by Chinamen, who treated him kindly 
and took him to the "city" (a board and shingle one) at 
the mouth of Quesnelle. He had subsisted for twelve days 
on fern and " gamass," or lily-roots, and a few berries. . 

To return to our narrative : we found that rotten snow 
covered the ground, logs, and underbrush to a depth of 
several feet, and travelling with the loads we carried was 
hardly pleasurable. We, however, pushed on, and, after fol- 
lowing the Homathco Eiver more or less closely for the 
greater part of a day, we reached the first glacier stream, 
and soon obtained a distant view of the great " frozen tor- 
rent" itself, with the grand snow-peaks behind it. 

This stream, with several others derived from the same 
source, ran with great violence, and had to be waded ; it was 
us much as I could possibly do to cross them, and I thought 

42 Glacier Streams. 

that but for the additional fifty pounds on my back I 
should have been taken off my legs. 

To this point several Indians had accompanied us, and I 
was not overgrieved to see them continue following the 
main river ; they were bound for Tatla Lake. They beg- 
ged for a " potlatch " or gift, and, glad to get rid of them, I 
acceded to their request for a little flour, tobacco, etc. To 
one of the children I gave a sixpence, explaining in doubt- 
ful Chinook that her majesty, as thereon portrayed, was 
Victoria, Klootchman tyhee copa King George illi-he — or 
"Woman-chief of the King George Land" or England,* 
and he immediately suggested by motions that he intended 
to hang the coin from his nose ! 

We pitched our camp in an open space from which the 
snow had melted, on the flat of land extending for several 
miles below the glacier. On the next morning (24th April) 
after our simple repast and one pipe, I left Tellot in camp 
to look after the traps, as he was unwilling to take any more 
trouble, and struggled up by myself to the base of the gla- 
cier, a distance of about two and a half miles, through very 
deep, but rotten and thawing snow. The flat was strewed 
with boulders and drift-wood, with here and there a sand- 
bar, and covered with snow so soft that I frequently slipped 
in between masses of rock up to my chest, or higher, and 
occasionally jerked down, without any warning, into a 
streamlet that had undermined it. The streams were large 
and swift ; one of them in fact was a small river, too deep 
and strong to be waded. Pine and alder woods enclosed 
this open space on either side. 

* "King George man," in the Chinook jargon (a mixture of English, 
French, and Indian, used as a means of converse among most of the white 
men and natives of the coast), simply means an Englishman, and was orig- 
inated by the fact that our first acquaintance with them was made in the 
Georgian era. "Boston man," or "Boston " simply, stands for an Ameri- 
can ; the first vessels bearing the stars and stripes hailed from that port. 

Great Glacier. 45 

On reaching the glacier, its presence was rendered very 
obvious by the cracking of the ice and the careering of the 
stones from its surface. This was incessant ; now a shower 
of pebbles, now a few hundred-weight of boulders, and now 
a thimbleful of sand, but always something coming over. 
The ice — very evidently such at the cracks, where you saw 
its true color, and its dripping lower edges of stalactite form 
— yet appeared for the most part like wet, smooth rock, 
from the quantity of dirt on its surface. At its termination 
the glacier must have been three-quarters of a mile in 
width ; it was considerably wider higher up. While 
sketching it, all around was so supremely tranquil that its 
action was very noticeable. Eocks and boulders fell from 
it sufficient to crush any too eager observer. A great quan- 
tity of snow was on its surface, but fast melting and form- 
ing streamlets that glistened in the sun, while from inner- 
most icy caverns torrents of discolored water poured. The 
day was extremely warm, and the glacier in full activity. 
It ran east and west, the sun setting behind the grand peaks, 
from whose snows it derived its existence. 

The terminal moraines were very distinctly marked by 
pyramids, islands (between the streams), and heaps of boul- 
ders, some of them a quarter of a mile in advance, on the 
flat. That these pointed to a former period when the gla- 
cial mass extended thus far can not be doubted. The green 
pine woods came almost to the glacier in places. Its surface 
was strewed with boulders, and both the lateral and medial 
moraines were strongly marked. Here and there a sapling, 
either detached from the side precipices, or possibly sprung 
from a wafted seed, was peacefully moving on to its destruc- 
tion. The crevasses were large and yawning. Square 
hummocks of ice, forced up by the closing of crevasses, 
existed in many places on its surface, while at the western 
or upper end, pinnacles, peaks, and pyramids of ice were 

46 Second Glacier. 

seen in the distance. I have little doubt that nearly all the 
features usually observable in connection with glaciers were 
to be found there. 

The mountains behind were lofty, and one peak was 
slightly horned ; while one immense black mass of rock, 
with precipitous sides, reared itself from the surrounding 
purity. After spending the day in such crude examination 
as my time would permit, I returned late in the evening 
to the camp, where Tellot had remained, all day. From 
his manner, I should suppose that he thought me a fool for 
my pains, although he showed some little interest in my 

After joining once more the camp of the road party and 
resting there a day or two, I turned my face coastward — 
proceeding leisurely to the Ferry station, and sketching in 

the neighborhood. There I stopped two days with S , 

the man in charge, and later with the superintendent, and 
some of the workmen who came down for supplies ; I then 
started down for the coast with a pack-train then returning. 
When within eleven miles from the sea, I left them, and 
this time proceeded entirely alone to visit a second glacier, 
which could be seen from the trail, and very much resem- 
bled in general appearance the Mer de Glace. This was 
less troublesome to reach, but the streams had to be waded 
constantly. Often an accumulation of drift-wood on a bar 
or " riffle," as it is termed on that coast, would assist me in 
crossing; but the principal stream from the glacier could 
not be crossed at all, and so turbulent was it that it had 
swept away a substantial bridge formerly built over it (at 
the crossing of the road). 

The ice of this glacier and the water from it were com- 
paratively pure, and it was really a very beautiful sight. 
The mountains behind it seemed of less height and more 
rounded in form than in the case of the other glacier. One 

Second Glacier. 47 

immense slope of dazzling purity was very striking. The 
cliffs and hills, by which it was shut in, were more precip- 
itous. The woods almost extended to its base. The flat 
in front was strewed with trees swept from the river's 
banks at times when its waters were unusually swollen, or 
in some instances doubtless brought down on the glacier it- 
self. The boulders here were neither so large nor so abun- 
dant, but there was more sand. 

As a canoe was to leave Bute Inlet* the following day, 
and it was getting late, after sketching the glacier, I reluc- 
tantly made my way back to the trail, and followed it 
through the woods to the station at the mouth of the river. 

* In a paper read before the Royal Geographical Society last session 
(1868), Bute Inlet was mentioned as the terminal point on the Pacific of a 
proposed railway and steam-boat route from the Atlantic sea-board. See 
Appendix (I.). The same scheme has been more recently laid before the 
British Association. 

48 Keported Murder. 



Reported Murder. — Canoe-trip on the Sea. — Dodd's Narrows. — Island on 
Fire. — The Massacre at Bute Inlet. — Reports of Survivors. — Second Mas- 
sacre. — Excitement in the Colony. — Expeditions in Search of the In- 
dians. — Capture of a Part of the Murderers. — The Ideal and Real In- 
dian. — His ultimate Extinction. — Reasons for it. — Indian Traders. — 
Proposed semi-secular, semi-missionary Settlements. — The Mission at 

I reached the station late in the evening, and, after a 
little refreshment, turned into my blankets immediately, 
and was soon fast asleep. Early next morning, while I 
was yet sleeping soundly in company with the packers and 
two of the workmen who were about to leave the party, 
some friendly Indians broke into the room without warn- 
ing and awoke us, saying, in an excited and disjointed 
manner, that the man in charge of the ferry (thirty miles 
higher up the river) had been murdered by the Chilicotens 
for refusing to give away the provisions and other property 
in his care. We simply laughed at the idea, knowing that 

although S , the man in question, was sometimes living 

alone, the working-party was near him, engaged in blasting 
rock, bridging, and otherwise building the road. More- 
over, constant communication was necessarily held between 
them — his station being a temporary depot for provisions, 
tools, and blasting-powder. The pack-train from the mouth 
of the river made a regular trip to him about every six 
days, and we believed that he and the party generally were 
well armed. 

Canoe Sea-Teip. 49 

The superintendent had gladly intrusted letters of im- 
portance to me, and had in fact rather hurried my depart- 
ure in order that they should reach Victoria by an early 
date. I therefore, on the noon of the same day, the 30th 
April, left the river by canoe, in company with two of the 
workmen and one Clayoosh Indian. The latter being the 
owner of the canoe, proved an inexorable tyrant, and kept 
us paddling for three days from early dawn to dewy eve. 
Although these "light kanims," built of cedar, appear too 
frail for the sea, we came down the inlet, and crossed the 
Gulf of Georgia to Nanaimo Point, Vancouver Island, in 
perfect safety, getting then a fair breeze till the end of our 

I have many times seen the Indians of that coast, when 
migrating from one village to another, employ two canoes, 
set a little apart, but parallel to each other, and covered 
with planks. Their household gods, their strings of clams, 
and dried fish, are piled on the top of this arrangement, and 
a man seated in one of the canoes can steer it. It is a cap- 
ital contrivance for use on the sea : a small sail is- often 
hoisted on the top of the planks. 

As long as the weather is moderate there is nothing 
more pleasurable than lying at the bottom of a canoe, 
smoking or dozing, while it cleaves through the water ; but 
in a rough or chopping sea one's time is occupied in keep- 
ing it baled out, and the Indian's in steering — a careful and 
difficult operation. We camped on some of the numerous 
islands of the gulf, and had capital weather. While pass- 
ing through "Dodd's Narrows" we had a near tussle with 
fate. The water there at ebb or flow comes with the whole 
force of the tide through a small rocky passage in eddies 
and currents, and our Indian, usually so impassible, was 
evidently scared, as we passed between two opening whirl- 
pools, and within a few feet of them. We paddled for life, t 


50 Island on Fire. 

and got through safely. He afterward told us, pointing 
back to the place with a shudder, "Hyu si-wash hyack clat- 
tawa keehwully ya-wa/" — "Many savages (Indians) had 
quickly gone to the bottom there," or had found a watery 

.At one of our midday halts for tea,. etc., we set a whole 
island on fire. Our camp-fire being built at the base of a 
shelving cliff, set light to some dry grass, which in its turn 
communicated the flame to the underbrush at a short dis- 
tance, and in a little while the forest itself, covering the 
whole island, formed one immense conflagration. The last 
we saw of it was a cloud of smoke on the horizon some 
hours afterward as we skimmed away from it with a favor- 
ing breeze. These forest fires are often very grand sights, 
and burn for weeks. New Westminster, on the Fraser, has 
had some very narrow escapes from total destruction from 

We arrived safely in Victoria without meeting with any 
further incidents of special interest, and were generally con- 
gratulated by persons of experience on having made a very 
quick trip. The distance, 185 miles, had occupied us five 
days, camping every night. 

But a week after our arrival — on the morning of the 
12th May — the writer, in common with all Victoria, was 
startled and horrified by news just arrived from Bute Inlet 
via Nanaimo. Fourteen out of seventeen men of the work- 
ing-party had been massacred by the Chilicotens under cir- 
cumstances of peculiar atrocity on the very morning (the 
30th April) that the Indians had awoke us at the station 
(forty-three miles distant) with the reported death of the 
ferry-keeper. He, poor fellow, had indeed been killed the 
day before, but they had not been satisfied with his blood. 
On the early morning of the day following his murder, 

Massacre at Bute Inlet. 53 

while the workmen were yet soundly sleeping, the Indians 
had surrounded the camp, cut the tent-poles, and dropped 
the tents on their victims, firing into them with their mus- 
kets, and running knives into their bodies till all but three 
were dispatched. 

One of the survivors, Petersen, a Dane, told the writer 
that, hearing the shots, he jumped out of his blankets, and 
was immediately struck at by an Indian with an axe ; he 
stepped aside just to see it fall heavily on the ground, and 
a few seconds after this was shot in the arm. Faint, and 
bleeding copiously, he plunged into the river hard by, and 
its swift waters carried him down half a mile over the 
stones and " snags," bruising him much. He managed to 
reach the bank, and was soon after rejoined by Mosley, a 
man who had escaped almost unhurt, although he had, 
while struggling to release himself from the fallen tent, 
seen long knives on either side of him pierce the prostrate 
bodies of his companions. The third man, Buckley, an 
Irishman, who afterward joined them, had been stabbed re- 
peatedly by the Chilicotens, and fell, faint from the loss of 
blood, remaining -unconscious for hours, and they left him, 
imagining he was dead. These men, sick and down-heart- 
ed, on arrival at the rope-ferry, found that the boat or 
" scow " had been cut adrift, and the swift current had car- 
ried it away. In their weak condition, they had no means 
of crossing till Buckley, who had been a sailor, managed to 
rig up a "travelling loop," as he termed it, and succeeded 
in hauling himself over on the cable stretched across the 
river, which was 200 yards wide at that spot. He then 
sent over the "travelling block" (formerly attached to 
ropes fixed' to the boat), and Petersen and Mosley were at 
length brought over safely. They eventually reached the 
coast, and leaving the river's mouth by canoe, travelled 
slowly to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, where they got the 

54 A Second Massacre. 

mail-steamer for Victoria. The superintendent and two 
others who on the morning of the attack were camped a 
little way ahead of the main party, had risen early, and 
were at work "blazing," i.e., marking the trees with an 
axe to show where the trail should go. They were attacked 
and shot before they could offer any resistance. It is said 
that the Indians, glutted with blood, tore the heart out of 
one of them and ate it ! With these poor fellows I had just 
been stopping ; with three of them indeed I had camped as 
late as the 28th of April, or but two days before this brutal 
transaction. I had reason indeed to be grateful for my es- 
cape. The Chilicotens were well provided with fire-arms. 
As it afterward appeared, a number of guns, sent for the 
protection of the workmen, had been paid away to these 
natives for various services, and it was therefore true that 
the party was killed by its own weapons. On the other 
hand, the men were virtually unarmed, having, as it was 
afterward shown, but one gun and one revolver among 
them. These, from the sudden and treacherous nature of 
the attack, do not appear to have been of the slightest as- 
sistance. From the apparent friendliness of the natives, a 
fatal security had reigned among the party, nor could any 
of us detect the slightest ground for alarm. I was myself, 
also, totally unarmed, but got at that time a lesson which I 
have taken to heart. I have always since carried a trusty 
revolver, and have found that except in those rare cases 
where pistols have been traded to natives, they have a 
wholesome dread of it. 

Alas ! the story is but half told. Three weeks later a 
large party of packers, with a train of well-laden mules, 
were attacked by the same tribe on the Bentinck Arm 
trail,* and most of these men were also murdered. It need 

* Bentinck Arm is on the northern coast of British Columbia. A second 
route bv a trail exists from the head of this arm of the sea to the Cariboo 

A Second Massacre. 55 

hardly be said that intense excitement prevailed in the 
colony ; many settlers having relatives and friends in iso- 
lated spots of this thinly-settled country, and being appre- 
hensive of further danger from the natives. Great sympa- 
thy was naturally expressed for Mr. Waddington, who had, 
in an almost unparalleled manner, undertaken a grand work 
at his own expense — one which, if completed, would have 

road. The particulars of the second massacre were as follows : " On the 
17th of May M 'Donald and his party started from New Aberdeen, at the 
head of Bentinck Arm, for Fort Alexandria, on the Fraser. They had 
forty-two pack animals, twenty-eight of which were loaded with goods for 
the mines, valued at between four thousand and five thousand dollars. On 
arriving at Nancootioon Lake, about seventy-five miles from the Arm, they 
met with a party of Indians, composed of the Chilicoten, Tatla, and Sitleece 
tribes, among the number being two of the murderers of Mr. Waddington's 
party at Bute. M'Dougall's squaw, who was a daughter of one of the Chili- 
coten chiefs, here learned from one of her old tillicums (friends) that the In- 
dians intended to rob and murder the whole party, and at once informed 
the packers, who, becoming alarmed, began to retrace their steps, when 
they were attacked by the savages. Two of the number, M'Dougall and 
Higgins, fell from their horses at the first fire, the latter shot through the 
breast ; M'Donald's horse was shot under him, on which he at once mount- 
ed another, which was also shot down ; he then took to the bush, and when 
last seen was standing behind a tree, shooting at the Indians with his re- 
volver. Barney Johnson was badly wounded in the face and breast by 
heavy shot, and a ball passed through his horse's head, killing the animal 
and tearing open the rider's cheek. Malcolm M'Leod was wounded with 
shot, and his hand badly torn by a ball. Grant got a ball through his arm, 
and his side filled with shot. Frederick Harrison was also considerably cut 
up. Farquharson was the only one who escaped unhurt, although his horse 
was shot under him. He escaped into the bush, where he was four days 
wandering about without food except berries, not daring to return to the 
trail for fear of being seen by the Indians. He at last made his way back 
to the head of the arm. M'Dougall's squaw was also shot by the Indians, 
and all the horses and property carried off. Grant found his way to Mr. 
Hamilton's ranch, about twenty-five miles above the settlement at the head 
of the Arm, and burst in upon the family, his face and body streaming with 
blood, telling them of the massacre. They at once packed up a few valua- 
bles, andj'Haking their arms and ammunition, hastened down to the river 
and embarked in a canoe. They had hardly got afloat when the blood-thirs- 
ty villains appeared on the high bank above them. They did not fire, how- 
ever, being intent on plundering the house, and the little party fortunately 
made their escape unhurt." — British Colonist, June 28, 1864. 

56 Capture of some of the Murderers. 

been of great value to the country. The Colonial Govern- 
ment acted with great promptness. A force of marines, an 
additional selected and paid body of men, and the New 
Westminster Volunteers, with the assistance of friendly 
Indians, endeavored to catch the murderers. Parties pro- 
ceeding from the coast at Bentinck Arm and Bute Inlet, 
and from the interior, attempted to hem them in from all 
sides, and Governor Seymour himself took a prominent 
part in these undertakings ; but, from the inaccessible na- 
ture of the country, a part only of the Indians concerned 
were ever captured, and that with the loss of an excellent 
and well-known Hudson Bay Company's man, Captain 
M'Lean. He was shot by the Chilicotens while incautious- 
ly riding in advance of his party. The Indians taken were 
afterward tried in due form and hanged, and among them 
was old Tellot, my companion to the glacier. 

It may very naturally be asked, What motives led the 
natives to perpetrate this crime ? 

I believe the answer is a simple one : a strong desire for 
plunder, accompanied by the knowledge of the improba- 
bility in that country of ever being taken and brought to 
justice. That any provocation had been given them I do 
not believe ; Mr. Waddington was well known to have 
been specially indulgent to them. 

The Indian is to this day but little understood. By some 
he is looked on as an animal, by others as almost a hero 
of romance. The ideal Eed-skin, the painted and much- 
adorned native with lofty sentiments, is certainly, as far as 
my experience goes, a very rare being at the present day, 
if indeed his existence at any time is not to be considered 
mythical. A creature, half child — half animal, a mixture 
of simplicity and ferocity, certainly exists ; but though a 
partial civilization may have varnished his exterior, beneath 
the thin crust the savage nature lurks, ever ready to break 

Effects of Civilization. 57 

forth, like those volcanic mountains whose pure snows only 
hide the molten lava within. 

It is easy enough to find natives who have abandoned 
that simple costume, a blanket, for more decorous clothing, 
who can swear in broken English, sing " Sally come up !" 
and drink all the camphene* whiskey they can obtain, but 
it is very rare to find those who are the better for intercourse 
with the " pale-faces." My experience is decidedly this, 
that the least degraded Indians were those who had least to 
do with the white man. 

But the importation of " fire-water " is not the only evil: 
diseases unknown, or little known before, are introduced, 
and the mere fact of the white man's presence among the 
Indians seems to foreshadow their ultimate extinction. 
This very curious point is carefully discussed by a recent 
writer, Mr. Sproat, in his " Scenes and Studies of Savage 
Life." He had excellent opportunities for a detailed ex- 
amination of the subject at his saw-mill settlement of Al- 
berni, Barclay Sound, V. I. He was a large employer of 
native as well as of white labor, and from personal obser- 
vation I can confirm his statements with regard to it. The 
place was conducted on temperance principles, while no 
violence was used or permitted toward the natives. They 
were -perhaps better fed, better clothed, and better taught 
than they had ever been before. " It was only," says Mr. 
Sproat, " after a considerable time, that symptoms of a 
change among the Indians living nearest the white settle- 
ment could be noticed. Not having observed the gradual 
process, my mind being occupied with other matters, I 
seemed all at once to perceive that a few sharp-witted 

* In Victoria, V. I., a comparatively small town, there were, between 
1858-64 inclusive, no less than 336 "whisky cases," i.e., men taken up 
on suspicion of having sold ardent spirits to natives, and 240 of the number 
resulted in convictions. 

58 Mr. Sproat's Testimony. 

young natives had become what I can only call offensively 
European, and that the mass of the Indians no longer vis- 
ited the settlement in their former free, independent way, 
but lived listlessly in the villages, brooding seemingly over 
heavy thoughts." Their curiosity had been satisfied, they 
had been surprised anql bewildered by the presence of 
"machinery, steam-vessels, and the active labor of civilized 
men," and they seemed to have acquired a distrust, nay, 
almost a disgust for themselves. They began to abandon 
their old habits, tribal practices, and ceremonies. "By- 
and-by," continues Mr. Sproat, " it was noticed that more 
than the usual amount of sickness existed among the In- 
dians," and " a high death-rate continued during the five 
years I was there." " Nobody molested them, they had 
ample sustenance and shelter for the support of life, yet the 
people decayed. The steady brightness of civilized life 
seemed to dim and extinguish the flickering light of sav- 
ageism as the rays of the sun put out a common fire." 

Now supposing these views to be correct, and the In- 
dian to be aware of all this — as he must be if there is 
truth in it at all — can we wonder if he takes any chance, 
fair or foul, to expel those whom, at the best, he looks upon 
as intruders on his native soil ? 

There are few places more favorably situated than Al- 
berni, placed as it is on a secluded canal or arm of the sea, 
and it was really a model settlement. Yet — if the above 
statements represent the actual facts of the case, and it is 
my belief they do — how infinitely worse is it for the Indian 
in places open to every trader, and where there is no check 
on him but a half-sustained law. Great corporations like 
the Hudson's Bay and the Russian American Companies 
did not usually sell spirits to natives at all ; but private 
traders, from the large profits attached to their sale, did, 
and do it without hesitation, and the mixtures sold would 

Mission at Metlakahtla. 59 

infallibly kill any ordinary person — in fact, frequently do 
kill them. For the Indian who has acquired a love of 
liquor there is little hope, for with him there is no middle 
course. Catlin concisely summed up our relations with 
the red men when he said, " White men — whisky — toma- 
hawks— scalping-knives — guns, powder, and ball — small- 
pox — debauchery — extermination." 

The subject is a sad and wearying one, for the mission- 
ary can hope to do but little in counteracting such influ- 
ences. Mr. Sproat suggests the formation of half-secular, 
half-missionary establishments in native villages at a dis- 
tance from white settlements. He considers that five white 
men — men of courage, energy, and proved morality, and 
willing to forego the use of alcoholic drinks — might form 
such an establishment, and that at least two of them should 
know a trade. The leader might act as a magistrate ; and 
from the writer's observation, he would have enough to do 
in keeping white traders from the neighborhood, and in 
preventing such men from overturning the very objects of 
the settlement. 

Success would depend purely on the earnest, unselfish, 
and, in a word, Christian efforts of those employed in the 
work. In the United States, the " Indian Agencies," some- 
thing very similar in theory, have not been satisfactory in 
practice, solely owing to the greediness of those engaged, 
who used them as a means of personal aggrandizement, 
and left the Indians, for whose benefit they were intended, 
" out in the cold." 

The Missionary Duncan, at the Metlakahtla village on 
the coast of British Columbia, has inaugurated such an ex- 
periment. Among the natives there are now to be found 
expert carpenters, builders, gardeners, and road-makers. 
A part of them own a small vessel which takes their pro- 
duce — oil, furs, and manufactured articles — to Yictoria. 

60 Mission at Metlakahtla. 

On her periodical return to the settlement dividends are 
declared : on one such occasion they termed her Ahah, 
" the slave," signifying that she did the work, and they 
reaped the benefit. The success of this station is, doubt- 
less, due in part to its isolation from any large white set- 
tlement, but Mr. Duncan must have labored earnestly and 
incessantly in his noble work. 

I think it is fair to allude to one objection I have heard 
used — both in and out of the colony — to Mr. Duncan's 
work. It is this, that — for a missionary — he is " too much 
of a trader." I can not say to what extent or in what 
sense this may be true ; I do not myself believe it in any 
offensive sense. If, however, Mr. Duncan, from a little pe- 
cuniary advantage accruing to him, should be induced to 
prolong his stay among the Indians, and follow out the 
work of civilization he is engaged in, no one can rightly 
complain. The majority of missionaries do not stop long 
enough in any one locality to acquire a thorough knowl- 
edge of the native dialects, and this of itself must be a fatal 
hinderance to their efforts. 

If this gentleman, by giving up a large part of his life 
for the benefit of these savages, can at the same time make 
a fortune, may success attend him ! 


Pleasures of Labor. 61 



Pleasures of Labor. — Unknown Interior of Vancouver Island. — Expedition 
organized. — Cowichan River. — Somenos. — Kakalatza and his Hat-box. — 
Travel up the River. — Our Camps. — Camp Yarns. — Indian Version of the 
Book of Jonah. — Cowichan Lake. — Rafting Experiences. — The "Ram- 
pant Raft." — Brown's Camp. — Acquisition of a Canoe. 

Travelling in the interior of Vancouver Island exhibits 
little beyond an alternation of various shades of monotony, 
so that the narrative of one month's experience is as good, 
or a good deal better, than the details of five. Notwith- 
standing the truth of this statement, I count some of the 
happiest hours of my life in the time spent there. Although 
no believer in the " dignity" of labor, I can well believe in 
its pleasures. When a man" can enjoy any diet, even one of 
beans — of a kind at home only given to horses — when he 
considers tea the best and most refreshing of drinks, it is a 
pretty good sign that he is in vigorous health, that he sleeps 
well, and that life is no burden to him. Such was our ex- 
perience at times when we carried on our backs loads from 
50 to 120 lbs. in weight, through a rugged country where 
rivers were mountain torrents, the woods almost a jungle, 
and where we rarely turned into our blankets at night, ex- 
cept in a wet condition. 

In 1864 but few of the settlers in this colony had pene- 
trated ten miles back from the towns and settlements of the 
east coast ; for although Captain Kichards (now Hydrogra- 
pher to the Navy), Captain Mayne, and Messrs. Pemberton 
and Pearce had already made very interesting journeys into 

62 Expedition Organized. 

the interior, yet the results of their explorations were little 
known. Yictoria had been built and sustained by the 
British Columbian mines, and fluctuated with them. In the 
spring of the above-mentioned year her citizens woke up to 
this fact, and an expedition organized by a popular com- 
mittee, and endorsed by the Colonial Government, was im- 
mediately started. A naturalist — Mr. Eobert Brown, of 
Edinburgh — was unanimously chosen leader. For astrono- 
mer we had Mr. P. Leech, formerly of the Koyal Engineers, 
and the writer accompanied the expedition as artist. Our 
party numbered nine persons exclusive of Indians, and was 
at a later period slightly increased. The men were selected 
for special qualifications ; many of them were miners by 
profession, and the Y. I. E. E. had no cause to be ashamed 
of its members.* 

On the' 7th June, 1864, after an address from Governor 
Kennedy,f himself in truth the originator of the expedi- 
tion, we left the Hudson's Bay Company's wharf in Yicto- 
ria on board H. M. Gun-boat " Grappler," bound for Cowi- 
chan, a settlement thirty -five miles north of Yictoria, on 
the east coast of the island. Her commander, Captain Yar- 
ney, was also an ardent promoter of the proposed explo- 
rations, and to him the writer is indebted for much kindly 

On arrival at Cowichan Bay we landed at the pretty little 
settlement of Comiaken, a place which boasts a Koman 
Catholic mission and several farms and settlers' houses. 
In one of the latter we enjoyed so much hospitality that it 

* Our party comprised the following men, in addition to those named 
above : Mr. John Buttle, assistant naturalist; Messrs. Barnston, Macdonald, 
Lewis, Mead, and Foley, pioneers and miners ; and Thomas Antoine and 
Lazare de Buscay, half-breed hunters. At a later period Mr. Foley left our 
party, and Messrs. Drew and Hooper were added to it. 

f Now Sir Arthur Edward Kennedy, C. B. , Governor of the West Africa 

Cowich an River. 63 

was a serious question whether some of us would not stop 
there, and let our travels end where they had begun ! 

On the 9th June, after a " hyas wa-wa" (big talk) with 
the Indians, Brown at length succeeded in hiring a canoe, 
and, putting the larger part of the stuff therein, sent it up 
the Cowichan River in charge of one white man of our 
party and several Indians. The larger part of us proceeded 
by land direct to the village of Somenos, where we found 
several large lodges, or " rancheries," as they are termed in 
the colony. The natives were drying fish and clams on 
strings hanging from the rafters of their dwellings, and were 
by no means anxious to engage in our service. There were 
two reasons for this reluctance, which was one of the main 
drawbacks of our journey. The first was simply that they 
lived so easily, getting salmon, deer, and beaver-meat in 
abundance, and consequently were indifferent to any thing 
but extremely high pay. The second and main reason was 
fear of surrounding tribes, especially those of the west coast, 
who were accustomed occasionally to kidnap " unprotected 
males," and carry them off as slaves. At length " Kaka- 
latza," an old "tyhee" or chief, of grave but dignified ap- 
pearance, and who persisted in wearing a battered chimney- 
pot hat, given to him by some settler, was engaged to act 
as our guide to the Cowichan Lake, but this was on the un- 
derstanding that we allowed him'to take his hat-box with 
him; and every night afterward he carefully deposited his 
beaver in it before retiring into his blankets. Kakalatza 
and his hat were inseparable. Here, too, a half-breed, 
Thomas Antoine by name, but known elsewhere as " Tomo," 
joined us, and proved a great acquisition. He could speak 
any number of Indian dialects, was a good shot, though he 
had but one arm, could travel or "pack" with the best, and 
was reliable except when he got hold of some whisky, when 
he was a perfect devil. Spirits seem to have even more 

64 Our Camps — Camp-Yarns. 

attraction for the half-breed than for the full Indian, and 
more influence upon him. 

The succeeding days much resembled each other, most 
of us proceeding through the forests with packs of no light 
weight, while the canoe was poled up the strong current of 
the river — paddles being useless, and oars impracticable. 
The river was a succession of " riffles," or rapids, small and 
large, alternating with comparatively quiet water. Some- 
times the canoe had to be towed, and sometimes carried 
bodily ; in several places all hands had to make a " portage," 
or carry the goods over the rocks, to a higher and better 
part of the stream. We found the banks thickly timbered, 
and where the Douglas pine, spruce, and hemlock had grown 
under favorable circumstances, the place resembled a beau- 
tiful park ; but for the most part it was a tangle of under- 
brush, mingled with fallen logs in all stages of decay, and 
woods in all degrees of luxuriance. But if our travelling 
was troublesome, the evening camp more than made up for 
all, when a good log-fire, a bed of fir-brush, and a pipe made 
us happy, and where we could comfortably sleep — for the 
most part, with no canopy but that of heaven. There is no 
climate in the world, California not excepted, more delicious 
than that of Vancouver Island. We were generally fortu- 
nate, too, at this time in getting grouse or deer-meat, and 
our party thought nothing of polishing off a whole deer at a 
couple of meals. We had to abandon and leave behind 
many a rib, and even haunch of venison, it being impossi- 
ble to carry any more than we already had on our backs in 
the shape of beans and flour, blankets, frying-pans, pots, and 

And then the yarns of those evening camps ! Macdon- 
ald's story — often begun and never ended — the narrative 
of his eventful life. Born on Fraser Eiver, the son of a 
Hudson's Bay chief trader, the tedious barter with Indians 

Jonah in the Pacific. 65 

for their peltries had proved distasteful to him, and he ran 
away, when quite young, to sea, got shipwrecked, and de- 
tained a prisoner in Japan. Here he was closely confined, 
but on the whole well treated, till he was rescued from the 
Japanese by Commodore Perry, U. S. Navy, when he called 
there on his well-known expedition. After many wander- 
ings, Mac brought up in Australia, mined, made money, and 
spent it ; had once kept a gambling-house and dancing- 
booth at the " diggings." Later the British Columbian 
mines had attracted him back to his earliest home; he had 
" run" a ferry on Fraser Kiver, kept a grog-shop at Lillooet, 
and played the " honest miner" in Cariboo, and now, hale 
and hearty as ever, was a member of the V. I. E. E. Or 
else the Indian yarns of Tomo, many of them childish, some 
incomprehensible, but sometimes showing that the natives 
have inventive power and a sense of humor. Here is one 
of them, apparently a native version of the book of Jonah ! 
"An Indian, paddling in his 'frail kanim' on the great 
* salt chuck ' or sea, was swallowed — canoe and all — by a 
great fish, and lay down at the bottom of its belly, sad at 
heart, thinking it was all up with him, and that never more 
would he see his people. But in the midst of his afflic- 
tion comfort came to him ; a brilliant idea flashed through 
his brain— sweet revenge was at least possible, and he pro- 
ceeded to execute a hastily conceived project. He cut his 
paddles into shavings — ' wittled ' them, as a Yankee would 
say — broke his canoe into fragments, and lighted a great 
fire on the floor of the creature's stomach. It was not long 
before the fish showed, by a tortuous uncomfortable wrig- 
gling of his body, that this operation did not agree with 
him, and he consequently attempted, by swallowing wave 
after wave, to cool his fevered body, but did not succeed in 
putting out the fire, though our hero was nearly drowned 
in the operation. Our Indian, averse to water at all times, 


1)6 Cowichan Lake. 

appeared at this juncture to get in a very bad temper, and 
drawing his long knife, stabbed the lining of the creature's 
inside till the coats of its stomach were in a very dilapidated 
state. It was evidently expiring fast, and swam ashore on 
the beach. Here, while it lay in the agonies of death, our 
friend cautiously crept up its throat, and through its gasp- 
ing mouth, just in time to avoid the collision of its jaws, 
which came together with a terrific crash, and the great fish 
was dead !" This formed part only of a long story ; many 
such we had, and varied them by making the woods echo 
with the latest gems of " nigger " minstrelsy, or even more 
classical productions. 

The Cowichan Kiver is about forty miles in length ; but 
a much shorter route to the great lake, its source, is possible 
by land. In several places it passes through canons, small 
rocky gorges, in which the water boils and frets in eddies 
and rapids over sunken rocks. It was but a type of three 
parts of the streams on the island. Every locality on its 
banks had appropriate native names. One fresh verdant 
spot near a deserted Indian lodge was Saatlam, "the place 
of green leaves ;" another, an open prairie in the woods, 
was Qualis, "the warm place." 

On the 15th June we found the forest getting thicker, 
the trees larger, and the soil evidently richer, a sign that 
we were nearing the lake ; and later the same day we camp- 
ed by its placid waters. One cedar near this spot measured 
thirty -five feet in circumference at a height of five feet from 
the ground. In this country very valuable timber is nec- 
essarily useless at the present time, from the fact that there 
are in most cases no available means of transport to the 
coast, the rivers usually being tortuous, and blocked at in- 
tervals by accumulations of drift-wood. One occupation is 
alone possible — so far as the interior forests are concerned 
— and that has hitherto attracted little attention on Van- 

Cowichan Lake.* 67 

couver Island : I allude to the manufacture of rosin and 
turpentine. In forests in Oregon of almost exactly the same 
character it has become a profitable employment, and the 
products are items of export from that country. 

The Indian name for Cowichan Lake, a very calm, beau- 
tiful sheet of water, is " Kaatza," and a long peninsula 
stretching into it, and widening at its termination into a 
thickly-wooded knoll, is " Kanatze," " the island in tow." 
One considerable stream and several minor ones enter it. 

After making sundry surveys and explorations, we di- 
vided our forces : one party, under Leech, proceeded in as 
direct a course as might be to Port San Juan, while Brown, 
myself, and four of the men, started for the Nittinaht River, 
in the direction (as we had learned on Indian authority) of 
its upper waters. 

Bidding then adieu to " Kakalatza" and his 'hat, we 
shouldered our packs, and, travelling through the forests, at 
length reached a stream flowing in a westerly direction, 
which we concluded was the one in question. Our supplies 
were down to starvation-point, and we lost no time in com- 
mencing the construction of a raft. On the 26th June, this 
being finished, we started down, going smoothly enough, 
except when our bark was brought to a stand-still on the 
shallow " riffles." Then all hands lightened her by getting 
into the water, lifted her over the boulders, and then all 
aboard, and away we went, shooting some of the deeper 
rapids very successfully. But at length the distant, though 
unmistakable roar of a fall, warned us that we must resume 
our travel by land. It was fortunate that we did so in 
time, for on examination of the rapid we found it to be one 
of a serious nature, and, had we proceeded, it is questiona- 
ble whether there would have been one left to tell the tale. 
We resumed our packs, and followed an Indian trail, which 
brought us at night to a deserted lodge, and there we camp- 


ed. Near it ori the bank lay an old cedar canoe, and we at 
once set to work to calk it, and make it as water-tight as 
possible. Mr. Brown, who had planned' the routes with 
care, knew that an inlet existed at the termination of the 
Nittinaht Eiver ; but it was a matter of uncertainty wheth- 
er we had reached that stream, and it behooved us all to be- 
stir ourselves on account of the state of our supplies. 

On the morning of the 27th Brown and Barnston started 
down in this shaky old canoe, which leaked like a sieve, 
and an hour or so afterward Macdonald and myself got on 
board a raft of very limited dimensions to follow them. It 
was composed of boards and logs, mostly taken from the 
Indian lodge, and was held together by the ropes of our 
blanket packs, the necessary holes pierced in some cases by 
pistol bullets. We left our companions, Buttle and Lewis, 
to follow through the bush, and to attempt, as they fondly 
hoped it might prove, a " short cut." We tied our bundles 
to two upright posts fixed on the raft, poled into the stream, 
and off we shot. 

We found the river a series of rapids alternating with 
silent and deep pools. These last gave us really harder 
work than any other part of our journey. We could not 
usually touch bottom with our poles, while it was very dif- 
ficult to keep the raft in shore. On the " riffles" it was 
pure fun, mixed with a dash of danger. The current act- 
ing on the stern of our craft with 300 lbs. — Macdonald's 
weight, as steersman — took it under water several feet, 
while the bows were elevated in the air. Several times a 
curious sight might have been witnessed, that of a raft 
shooting past at the rate of six or eight miles an hour, and, 
standing nearly upright in the water, a "raft rampant," as it 
were, with a couple of half-drowned explorers hanging on 
with comical desperation. It need not be stated that on 
such a river our bark whirled round in the eddies every 


Eafting Experiences. 71 

few minutes, and the stern became the bows, and vice versa. 
Twice we were directly spilt in the water, and once sucked 
in beneath a number of huge logs, under which the current 
swept violently, but we escaped with a few bruises. Ac- 
cumulations of drift-wood occurred constantly on the river, 
and made navigation an affair of constant watchfulness. 

We often as before brought up against boulders in the 
river, and had to lighten her, the water meantime rushing 
past with fury, and then had to scramble on again, or we 
should have been left behind. A few moments after this, 
the cry, a very constant one, was "Duck your head!" as 
we shot under overhanging banks, branches, and half-fallen 
trees. I was reminded ever and anon of early experiences 
in donkey-riding, when that patient but vicious' animal 
would bruise my legs against every wall, and would run 
under trees that just allowed him to pass completely, but 
that nearly swept me from the saddle. Our raft seemed to 
be "possessed" in like manner. Mac was, as usual, thor- 
oughly good-tempered, and the events of that day made us 
faster friends than ever. We went ashore two or three 
times, and had several luscious though unsatisfying meals 
of "salmon" and "salall" berries. In other respects our 
provisions were so low that we were well inclined to make 
a quick trip. 

We despaired of reaching Brown's camp that evening, 
when smoke wafting up the river, the grateful smell of a 
camp-fire reached our nostrils, and a few minutes afterward 
turning a bend of the stream, we discovered our friends 
camped on a flat bar at what was virtually its termination. 
After their experiences in the canoe they were surprised to 
see us, and, as it proved, we were more fortunate than the 
men who followed us. The next afternoon they arrived, 
fatigued and hungry, and perfectly satisfied that "short 
cuts " in that country were a delusion and a snare. They 

72 Acquisition of a Canoe. 

had like us essayed a raft, but had not been able to man- 
age it. 

Before they arrived our companions had found, at a little 
distance below the mouth of the river, an uninhabited lodge, 
and near it a canoe, which was immediately " pressed," says 
Brown, in his report to the Colonial Government, "into the 
service of the expedition, in the name of her most gracious 
majesty, Queen Victoria, and her faithful deputy, his ex- 
cellency Arthur Edward Kennedy." We set to work to 
calk it with flour-bags and pine-gum, preparatory to an 
early start on the morrow. 

Nittinaht Inlet. 73 



Nittinaht. — "Whyack." — The Indians. — Aht Tribes.— The Breakers. — 
Port San Juan. — Indian Yarn. — Sooke. — Basin and River. — Discovery 
of Gold. — Gold on Queen Charlotte's Island. — Nanaimo. — Coal-seam 
at Comox. — Ascent of Puntledge River. — Wreck of Canoe. — Interior 
Lakes. — Barclay Sound. — Game List. — Camp-marks. 

Very early the next morning we made a start, a light, 
favorable breeze had risen, and, hoisting a blanket sail, we 
skimmed away gayly before it. Even now we were not 
absolutely certain that we had reached the wished-for Nit- 
tinaht Inlet, but appearances were in favor of that view. 
We passed several Indian villages with, however, no signs 
of life about them, and toward evening found the inlet nar- 
rowing. The tide swept through it in many an eddy and 
whirlpool, and we could hear the noise of breakers outside 
— a convincing proof that we had almost reached the coast. 
A few minutes of specially hard paddling took us out of 
the current into a quiet bay behind the Nittinaht village 
of " Whyack," where a troop of wild-looking savages 
watched our approach with evident surprise. 

" Mokoola," the chief, was absent, and a part of his tribe 
with him; but those remaining in the village treated us 
well, and pointed out a flat place behind it for our camp. 
We were soon engaged in bartering for halibut, etc., and 
they crowded round to see how we cooked it, and perhaps 
to watch an opportunity for pilfering. Their blankets give 
an excellent chance for obtaining and concealing any thing 
lying round a camp : we lost two axes and an auger at this 

74 The Indians. 

It was on this coast and neighborhood that Mr. Sproat 
made the careful studies and observations on Indian habits 
and character which he has recently laid before the public. 
The annexed portrait of an Aht* native is no imaginative 
production, but is taken from a photograph made on the 
spot, and gives a fair idea of the type of native we met at 
this village. The unkempt hair, the wreath of leaves put 
on much for the same purpose as they are often put on the 
heads of cart-horses — to keep off flies and musquitoes, and 
also for ornament — and the limited amount of costume, are 
all characteristics of the west coast natives. The pin stuck 
in one side of his nostril is simply put there for conven- 
ience, when not required for fastening the blanket across 
his manly bosom ! A large number of these people have 
small holes drilled through the cartilage between the nos- 
trils, in which they not unfrequently wear rings; it is no 
uncommon thing for them to insert their blanket-pins in 
them temporarily, for want of a better place. 

But on festive occasions and .dances these " nasty In- 
jiens " do not deem themselves sufficiently ugly, and there- 
fore put on masks carved from wood, and often very gro- 
tesque and curious. The original of our illustration is 
nearly two feet in height, but much larger ones are worn, 
and some of the chiefs have a complete series of " proper- 
ties " of this kind. Some of them are ingeniously con- 
structed, and have strings arranged to move the eyes, open 
the beak, etc. They are common to all the tribes of Van- 
couver Island. 

The Nittinahts bear a bad reputation ; and owing to the 
inaccessible coast round " Whyack," the heavy surf and 
breakers off the entrance to the inlet, and the fact that they 

* Aht is the generic name given by Mr. Sproat to the tribes of the west 
and south coast of Vancouver Island, or, rather, is the generic termination 
of most of the native names ; thus, Nittinaht, Klaho-quaht, etc. 


The Nittinahts. 



nave stockaded their village, they consider themselves ah 
most impregnable, and safe from attack. They have in 
days gone by often waged war on surrounding tribes, and 
even on those of the opposite coast of Washington Territo- 
ry. The terrible Bute Inlet massacre was so fresh in our 
memories that we kept a careful " watch " by turns all 
night. " Whyack " is famous for the manufacture of cedar 
canoes, and we saw many there in course of construction 
from single logs. The models of these craft were extreme- 
ly good ; I have not seen better in any other part of the 

Next morning, after a couple of hours' haggling, we hired 
a large canoe, and three Indians to manage it. Oar goods 
being put on board, it was hauled to the water's edge, where 
we all stood more or less in the surf. The right moment 
at length arrived, the retreating wave lifted our bark, we 
scrambled on board, and paddled with all our might till 

78 Port San Juan. 

clear of the breakers. We then hoisted a mat sail, and. 
leaving the Indians to manage it, lay down at the bottom 
of the canoe and smoked our pipes in comfort. 

We rounded the southernmost end of Yancouver Island, 
and arrived at Port San Juan, or Pachenah, without acci- 
dent, finding there Mr. Lawton, a well-known trader, who 
welcomed us kindly, and immediately spread a meal that 
seemed a princely banquet after our week of semi-starva- 
tion. A few days after our arrival Leech and his party 
came in, worn out with fatigue and hunger, and their 
clothes in tatters. A distance of twenty miles — on the map 
— had occupied ten days to travel, and they used very 
strong and emphatic language in regard to an old Admiral- 
ty chart on which their route was marked as " level plains !" 
Their journey had been of the most difficult nature, over a 
constant succession of mountains, and through the usual 
thick forests. To proceed one mile, they had to travel five ; 
and when they at length reached the San Juan Kiver, it 
was found to pass through gorges specially inaccessible, and 
to be in fact, for the larger part of its course, a brawling 
torrent. Among other specimens brought in by Leech was 
a fragment of undoubted plumbago. Coal was also ob- 
served by us in the neighborhood, but in thin seams only. 

Mr. Lawton, then living by himself, and with no white 
neighbors within thirty or forty miles, was very glad to see 
us, and had an unlimited budget of yarns. Once during 
his stay at Pachenah the Nittinahts had made a warlike ex- 
cursion to the Cape Flattery Indians of the opposite coast 
(Washington Territory), and had brought home twenty-six 
human heads as their spoil, which they brought up to his 
log-house with savage glee. They then left for their own 
village, and Lawton knew well that a return visit would 
be made by the outraged tribe, and that they would not be 
particular whom they attacked, even though they were 

Repulse of Indians. - 79 

white settlers. He accordingly, with one white man then 
with him, barricaded the doors and windows of his house, 
and kept a constant watch. They had a large quantity of 
trading guns lying there, and they determined to load every 
one of them, and give the attacking party a thorough good 
peppering. They had not long to wait ; but one night 
elapsed before the plash of paddles was heard approaching 
in the bay. They stopped opposite the Pachenah Indian 
lodges ; all was silent as the tomb, the inhabitants had fled. 
Enraged, they made for Lawton's house, their hearts full of 
vengeance, and ready to wreak it out on the first man they 
met. Their canoes were just touching the beach, when the 
two men inside let fly at them, and took up musket after 
musket so rapidly that the Indians thought there must be 
a large party inside, and, howling with disappointment, 
made off in the greatest confusion, paddling for dear life. 
They never gave any further trouble. 

After the arrival of a sloop from Victoria with provisions 
for the ensuing month, we left for Sooke Basin or Harbor in 
two canoes, and in the lovely Straits of Fuca soon got a 
favorable breeze. This increased so suddenly that we lost 
one of our sails by a squall of wind, and we had to make a 
tent do duty for it. On this trip we noticed fair outcrop- 
pings of coal on a low cliff on the coast near- Sooke. This 
may well be considered a continuation of the coal measures 
already worked on the opposite coast, at Clallam Bay, Wash- 
ington Territory. 

On the 13th July we commenced the ascent of the Sooke 
River (" Soak " more nearly expresses the Indian pronuncia- 
tion), a stream much resembling the Cowichan River before 
mentioned, but even less navigable. It was there that we 
made the first important discovery of our expedition — one 
that for a time revolutionized Victoria. In brief, gold was 
found in paying quantities ; a "rush" took place when the 

80 Discoveey of Gold. 

news reached Yictpria, and, before the end of the season, 
100,000 dollars' worth of the precious metal had been taken 
out. It is admitted that few persons made extremely large 
" piles " or stakes, but many made for the time very high 
wages. Board and " shingle " stores, grog-shops, and hotels 
were run up in numbers out of all proportion to the wants 
of the locality, and, as in other places, it was a question 
whether, for every dollar obtained, two had not been spent 
in the operation ! 

Large numbers of Chinamen eventually worked this 
ground, and as provisions were tolerably cheap on the spot, 
especially after trails were made from the nearest road, the 
discovery was deemed one of value, and a reward in hard 
cash was voted and paid to us by the Colonial Grovernment. 
The principal stream was, by the general wish of the mem- 
bers of the expedition, named after Leech, our astronomer. 

As yet nothing equal to these diggings has been found 
on the island, but from the indications observed by us in 
innumerable other places,* and from the well-known yield 
of the main-land, it can not be doubted that Vancouver Isl- 
and has other fields of the same character, as yet undevel- 
oped. On Queen Charlotte's Island also the precious metal 
is known to exist, although the precise locality of the de- 
posit has never been satisfactorily ascertained. It is stated 
that a gentleman in the Hudson's Bay service found the 
Haidah Indians of that island using golden bullets in place 
of leaden ones ! 

For very interesting reports of the explorations once 
made on Queen Charlotte's Island by Captain Torrens, and 
also by Major Downie, both gentlemen well known to me, I 
must refer the reader to Captain Mayne's work on that coast. 

* On a stream entering Cowichan Lake, on rivers falling into Barolay 
Sound on the southern side, and on streams falling into the Puntledge Lake 
near Comox, very good " colors" of gold were obtained. 

Character of the Gold-Field. 81 

The gold on Vancouver Island was usually found in small 
specks and scales (dust), but nuggets up to six and a half 
ounces have been obtained. The great drawback was the 
scarcity of the "pay-dirt," that is to say, that there were 
more rocks and boulders than earth impregnated with gold 
resting on them ; sometimes in cracks and corners, however, 
of the former, very nice little " pockets" or accumulations of 
nuggets were struck. I can not leave this subject without 
alluding to the great assistance afforded us in the first dis- 
covery by Mr. Foley, then a member of the expedition, a 
practical miner of considerable experience, who knew more 
of gold and its whereabouts than any five of the other men. 

On the Sooke Eiver deer were especially abundant ; and 
when once we had arrived at the lake of the same name, 
one of its sources, we lived for a time in clover, catching 
some salmon-trout in its limpid waters. Owing to the dry- 
ness of the weather at this period, our camp-fires were on 
several occasions the means of setting the forest on fire; and 
at the lake we were burnt out of our camp, and had to re- 
treat to an island, from which we could watch the conflagra- 
tion in safety. Here we should have been happy, but for 
the musquitoes. It has been distinctly stated that they do 
not exist on Yancouver Island, but the writer knows, from 
this and subsequent trips, that they are abundant in the in- 
terior, though not perhaps as bad as those in British Colum- 
bia. We always kept a pan of smouldering ashes at our 
tent door, when camped for any length of time in one spot, 
yet we passed many a restless night £rom their inflictions. 

From Sooke Lake we proceeded by Shawnigan Lake and 
Cowichan to Nanaimo, where a delay occurred, owing to the 
difficulty of obtaining Indians. Nanaimo, seventy miles 
north of Victoria, is the second town in point of size on the 
island : in fact, the list ends here ; there is no third as yet. 
It owes its existence mainly to the valuable coal deposits 


82 Coal-Seam at Comox. 

which are successfully worked by an English company, and 
it has had a steadier and more healthy career than Victoria. 
It lies in a pleasant bay sheltered by islands, and there is 
depth of water sufficient for large vessels close in shore. A 
quantity of the coal is shipped to San Francisco, Yictoria, 
and Fraser Eiver, while there is an expectation that the 
recent annexation of " Alaska " will create a further demand 
for steam-ship purposes. The main deposit is situated at 
about a quarter of a mile from the town, and the coal reaches 
the wharf by means of a railway and locomotive. The 
principal shaft is 100 feet in depth, and a " drift" runs in 
an inclined plane for 1200 feet, sinking in that distance 170 
feet, so that the perpendicular depth from which the coal is 
now taken is 270 feet. The bed has naturally varied con- 
siderably in thickness; in 1867 it was about five feet 
through. One hundred and fifty to three hundred tons are 
taken out daily ; the coal brings an average of six dollars 
a ton on delivery at the ship. In San Francisco it is re- 
tailed at an average price of twelve dollars (or about £2 
10s. gold : there are no " greenbacks" accepted in California 
except at the regular discount). The Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, which had formerly a fort at ISTanaimo, were the first 
to work this seam, hiring Indians to dig it from the out- 
croppings, and paying them at the rate of one blanket for 
eight barrels. It is an undoubted fact that the coal of Van- 
couver Island is its most valuable production, and that it is 
abundant. After leaving Nanaimo, we discovered on a 
stream entering the liuntledge Kiver near the small settle- 
ment of Comox, a very important deposit. A seam from 
two to eight feet in thickness, disappearing and again reap- 
pearing on the rocky walls of a small canon, extended for 
a mile of its course. This occurred five miles from naviga- 
ble water, and would require the construction of a tram-way 
through the woods for its successful development. We 

Weeck of our Canoe. 83 

camped by the principal seam, and made a gigantic fire of 
the coal, which really appeared to be of excellent quality. 
The stream on which we observed it was named in honor 
of our leader, Mr. Brown. 

Our journey from this place up the Puntledge Eiver to 
the lake of the same name was one of difficulty. We had 
determined to take a canoe there, and it had to be carried 
or towed nearly the whole distance. Piles of drift-wood 
blocked the river, while its bed consisted of boulders of all 
sizes. "We all spent more of our time in the water than out 
of it ; and often, when dragging the canoe by main force 
through the shallow but swift current, got into holes out of 
our depth, and clung to it with great pertinacity till once 
more we could get a foothold. There were two falls of 
importance on this river, one of them bearing the poetical 
name of Ski-ep, " the whirl of waters." At last we reached 
the lake, one of the most picturesque on the island, and 
our canoe was of much service to us. Alas ! it was near 
•here that our craft, that had gone through so much, at length 
came to grief. Descending a tributary of the lake which 
we had previously examined, owing to the bad steering of 
one of our party it came broadside on a log, and in a second 
was cracked up like a nut-shell into a hundred pieces, and 
we were all spilt in the swift current. We hung on to the 
larger part of the fragments, and succeeded in getting ashore. 
After several hours' patching, sewing, and calking, we 
managed to rig her up again, but had subsequently to treat 
her as a very cripple of a canoe, and to get out at all the 
rapids and shallows and carry her tenderly over. With 
great care we at length reached our camp by the lake, where 
doubtless she still lies, the wreck we left her. 

Between the east coast at Comox and the west coast at, 
Barclay Sound, we found a series of seven lakes, extending 
almost across the island. One of these, the Central Lake, 

84 "Logging Camp." 

is about eighteen miles long by one to one and a half in 
width, and our travelling was spasmodic, constantly making 
halts to construct rafts. On this rather tedious trip our 
supplies again got down to a very limited ration of flour, 
and that " strait," that is to say, unaccompanied by tea, 
beans, or bacon. We varied a diet of soggy bread with a 
kind of thin paste or soup of flour and water ; not very 
good "working" grub. It was a sad but true fact that, 
when our commissariat department was exhausted, nothing 
was to be obtained in the way of game or outside supplies ; 
and we were not sorry when, on the 23d September, we 
reached a " logging camp " near the Opichesaht village on 
the Somass Eiver, where the workmen, who had been ex- 
pecting us for some time, spread a repast to which we well 
knew how to do justice. The same dajr, descending the 
river, we reached the large saw-mill and lumber establish- 
ment of Alberni, Barclay Sound, where Messrs. Johnston 
and Eaymur, the gentlemen then in charge, received us 
with great kindness. Two hundred workmen — represent-- 
ing a dozen nationalities, and including among the number 
Kanakas from the Sandwich Islands, and the Indians and 
half-breeds of many tribes — were busily engaged in the 
mill and neighborhood. Seven vessels were, at the date of 
our visit, loading t with lumber for England, California, 
Chili, China, and Australia, and the settlement presented a 
lively aspect. 

Our subsequent canoe-trips down Barclay Sound — on 
streams entering which we again found the " color " of 
gold — our journey once more across the- island to Quali- 
cum, and thence by canoe to Nanaimo, would, if narrated, 
be little more than a repetition of what has been said above, 
and I will not enlarge upon them. Our party in detach- 
ments had crossed the island in seven directions. 

In the interior game is fairly abundant, and our list in- 

Camp Maeks. 


eluded three elk, twenty-five deer, and two beaver, shot 
mainly at the commencement of our journeys. Owing to 
the noise made in travelling through the thickets and 
woods, and the density of the forest itself, we saw but few 
wild animals, and of those generally only their hind-quarters 
retreating in the distance. The animals above named, with 
a few bears, panthers, martens, and coons, are about all that 
the traveller will see at any time on that island. 

The future explorer will have no trouble in finding our 
tracks, for at each camp the trees were " blazed," i. e., mark- 
ed with an axe, and an inscription affixed as represented 
below — the artistic part of the work being usually perform- 
ed by the writer — painter, but not glazier, to the expedition. 


86 Alaska Territory, 



Acquisition of Russian America by the United States. — American Criticisms 
on the Purchase. — Coal and gold Discoveries. — Mock Advertise- 
ments. — America for the Americans. — Geographical Literature of the 
Pacific— Of Russian America. — The Treaty. — W. U. Telegraph Expedi- 
tion. — Its Organization. — Preference for young Men. 

The recent acquisition of Russian America by the Unit- 
ed States Government is one of the events of our day. 
Four hundred thousand square miles of territory have been, 
under the name of " Alaska,"* added to the already vast 
domain of Uncle Sam, and Russia has rid herself of an 
isolated possession of dubious value. 

The purchase was not allowed to be completed quietly. 
On its announcement the people of the United States were, 
in fact, taken by surprise ; there was much hostile criticism, 
and strong political opposition. That has now, for the most 
part, passed away, and American enterprise has begun to 
develop the resources of the country. f For some time, 

* By this purchase, the U. S. Government has acquired also one of the 
largest mountains of the continent, Mount St. Elias. 

f Coal has been discovered at Cook's Inlet, and a recent newspaper para- 
graph (July 30, 1868) tells us that "A party of explorers started some time 
back from the State of Oregon for the Skena River, in Alaska, and were 
subsequently reported to have been lost in a schooner in Queen Charlotte's 
Sound. The American consul at Victoria, Vancouver Island, now announ- 
ces their safety, and adds that they state themselves to have discovered a 
rich gold-field in the Taquo River, where they are picking up the precious 
metal in lumps. This news is credited in Sitka, and every available craft is 
being brought into requisition to convey adventurers to the spot." Gold 
has been frequently obtained in the Stekine River, a large stream near the 
boundary-line, running partly through British and partly through Russian 

It has also been recently stated that a company was prepared to "take" 

Mock Advertisements. 87 

indeed, Mr. Seward's position in regard to it — he being al- 
ways considered the originator of the project — was any 
thing but a desirable one. It was regarded as a bad busi- 
ness, and as an unfortunate speculation, and was ridiculed 
as " our new possession of ' Walrus-sia.' " Mock advertise- 
ments — purporting to come from the Secretary of State — 
appeared in the daily papers of New York and the large 
cities generally, offering the highest price for " waste lands 
and worn-out colonies," "submerged and undiscovered isl- 
ands," icebergs, polar bears, volcanoes, and earthquakes, 
"provided they should not shake the confidence of the 
State Department." In the House of Congress it was 
made a party question, and therefore the colony was on the 
one hand described as the tag-end of creation, and on the 
other as- an Elysian field. Virtually there was, and is, little 
known about it ; and the following pages must be regarded 
simply as an early and superficial contribution to our bet- 
ter knowledge of it. 

There are, however, many, both in England and America, 
who look on this purchase as the first move toward an 
American occupation of the whole continent, and who fore- 
see that Canada, and British America generally, will sooner 
or later become part of the United States. Looking at the 
matter without prejudice, I believe that it will be better for 
those countries and ourselves when such shall be the case. 
We shall be released from an encumbrance, a source of ex- 
pense and possible weakness ; they, freed from the trammels 
of periodical alarms of invasion, and feeling the strength of 
independence, will develop and grow ; and — speaking very 
plainly and to the point — our commercial relations- with 

Alaska, pay $10,000,000 in gold to the United States Government (nearly 
$3,000,000 over the sum to be paid to Russia), and leave the supreme au- 
thority to Congress. Their object was of course to trade for furs, mine, and 
otherwise develop the country. 

88 Literature of the Pacific. 

them will double and quadruple themselves in value. No 
one now supposes that, had the United States remained 
naught but " our American colonies," they would have pro- 
gressed as they have done ; and it is equally obvious that 
our commerce with them must have been restricted in equal 
ratio. That it is the destiny of the United States to possess 
the whole northern continent, I fully believe. 

The geographical literature of the Pacific is abundant ; 
but that part of it which has reference to Eussian America is 
comparatively restricted. Miiller's* narrative of the voyages 
of Behring and his companions deservedly heads the list. 
Behring and Tschirikoff may be fairly regarded as the dis- 
coverers of the country, and their names will ever be asso- 
ciated with the North Pacific. Immediately following their 
adventurous voyages, a number of Eussian merchants of 
Eastern Siberia sent vessels from Ochotsh and neighboring 
ports on trading excursions, mainly to the Aleutian Islands. 
" Within a period of ten years," says Coxe,f their historian, 
"more important discoveries were made by these individu- 
als at their own private cost than had been hitherto effected 
by all the expensive efforts of the crown." Byron, Carteret, 
Wallis, and Cook follow next in chronological order ; the 
latter especially helped to clear up the fogs that encompass- 
ed the coast. Cook's Inlet, Ounalaska, Norton Sound, and 
Behring Straits were all examined by the great circumnav- 

Passing over the illustrious La Perouse, who explored 
portions of the N.W. coast adjacent to Mount St. Elias, and 
several Spanish commanders who did next to nothing for 
Eussian America, we come to our countryman Vancouver, 
whose laborious surveys have left their mark on the whole 
of the coast from San Francisco to Cook's Inlet, and whose 

* Mailer's "Voyages from Asia to America," etc. 
f Coxe's "Russian Discoveries." 


great work deserves a fuller recognition from the public than 
it has ever yet received. 

Kussia has naturally done much toward the exploration 
of her colony, and some of her naval officers hold a de- 
servedly high rank as geographers. Lisiansky, Kotzebue, 
and Liitke are names as familiar to men of science as to 
navigators. Among our own countrymen, Moore, Kellet, 
Collinson, and M'Clure, when engaged in the search for Sir 
John Franklin, also examined some portions of the coasts,* 
while Captain Bedford Pim, who made some extensive 
land-trips, is well remembered at some of the (late) Eussian 
posts. But with the exception of the one visit paid by a 
Eussian, Zagoskin, until our expedition commenced its work, 
the interior of the country had been little visited, except by 
the traders of the Eussian American Fur Company, and 
much valuable information has been hitherto locked up in 
their archives. By the recent treaty, all the documents re- 
lating to the territory were to be handed over to the United 
States Government. Let us hope that they may, in the in- 
terests of geography, receive a thorough investigation. 

The treaty between Eussia and the United States estab- 
lishes the eastern and southern boundary-lines as arranged 
by Eussia and Great Britain in 1825. The western line in- 
cludes the whole of the Aleutian Islands ; Attou is distinct- 
ly named as the most westerly island ceded. The northern 
boundary is only limited by the ice and snow of the Arctic. 

In 1865, the Western Union Telegraph Company of 
America, the largest corporation of its kind in existence, 
commenced the explorations for a proposed overland tele- 
graph, which, by means of a cable, via Behring Straits, was 

* Findlay's " Directory for the Navigation of the Pacific Ocean " gives, up 
to the date of its publication, an exhaustive resume of this subject. Although 
a little out of date, from the rapid development of the north- west coasts of 
America, it was used constantly on our vessels, and looked upon as an in- 
valuable work on the subject. 

90 W. U. Telegraph Expedition. 

to unite the Old and New World. The project — of itself 
not entirely new — was virtually started by Mr. P. D. Collins, 
an enterprising American, who had, after several years' 
perseverance, obtained the necessary charters and right of 
way from the British and Eussian Governments. The 
scheme, after an expenditure of three million dollars, was 
abandoned in 1867, owing to the success of the Atlantic ca- 
ble, and not from any overwhelming difficulties in the way 
of the undertakingltself. There was, at the date at which 
our explorations commenced, no faith in the great subma- 
rine cable, at least among telegraphic engineers.* 

It is needless to state that an expedition employing sev- 
eral hundred explorers, who examined six thousand miles 
of country on both sides of the Pacific — from Fraser River 
to Behring Straits, and thence southward to the Amoor — has 
added something to our knowledge of those countries. In 
point of fact, five volumes like the present would hardly 
give a fair idea of the amount of travel undertaken. Much 
of the information acquired is in the hands of the telegraph 
company, and much more in the possession of individuals, 
and is virtually lost to the world. I have confined myself 
almost exclusively to the narration of my own experiences, 
ranging over nearly two and a half years. 

Colonel Bulkley, engineer-in-chief of the projected line, 
in the spring of the above-mentioned year left San Francisco 
(where the head-quarters of the expedition were established), 
and paid a preliminary visit to Sitka. He there left Dr. 
Fisher, the surgeon-in-chief, to collect information while he 

* It is by no means improbable tbat this enterprise may be again revived 
if the Atlantic cable or cables should " give out " or work with uncertainty, 
although it would be an expensive line to construct and to keep in good or- 
der. That the scheme is practicable there can be no doubt. Portions of the 
line which were completed between New Westminster and the mouth of 
Quesnelle — both on Fraser River — are now used for the transmission of mes- 
sages. See Appendix (II.). 

Organization of the Expedition. 91 

himself returned to California to organize the expedition. 
I first had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Bulkley in Vic- 
toria, V. I., and immediately volunteered to serve on the 
expedition. He expressed himself gratified at the idea of 
an artist accompanying him, and we commenced a friend- 
ship that has but increased with better acquaintance. Col- 
onel Bulkley inspired affection and esteem in all who knew 

Our expedition had a military organization, and to each 
man was assigned a special duty. The principal officers 
for the first season (1865) were as follow : 

Col. Bulkley, Engineer-in-Chief (on leave of absence U. S. Regular Army). 

Capt. Scamraon, Chief of Marine (U. S. Revenue Service). 

Major Wright, Adjutant. 

Major Chappel, Chief Quartermaster. 

Mr. Lewis, Assistant Engineer. 

Dr. Fisher, Surgeon-in-Chief. 

Major Kennicott (in charge of Yukon party). 

Lieut. M'Crea (in charge of Anadyr party). 

Major Abasa (in charge of Siberian party). 

Major Pope (in charge of British Columbian party). 

Capt. Conway (in charge of building party). 

E. K. Laborne, Interpreter. 

Frederick Whymper, Artist. 

It would occupy an unnecessary amount of space to give 
the details and numbers of each party, more especially as 
reference will be made to them subsequently ; but I may 
add that several collectors for the Smithsonian Institution 
at Washington accompanied us, among the principal of 
whom were Messrs. Dall, Eothrock, Bannister, and Elliot. 
Major Kennicott, besides being selected on account of his 
previously acquired knowledge of the country, was the ap- 
pointed director of the scientific corps. 

The men selected by Colonel Bulkley were nearly all 
young, and hardly one beyond the prime of life. He more 
than once said that no old man (or old woman either) 
should serve on his expedition, and he could have hardly 

92 Preference for Youth. 

found a better place than San Francisco for the selection 
of active and "live" men. There, nearly every one has 
been more or less a traveller, and knows something of the 
many acquirements valuable in a new country. 

Doubtless Colonel Bulkley's preference for youth, activ- 
ity, and "go" is that of Americans " generally. Here, in 
England, I have sometimes thought that youth was consid- 
ered more of a crime than a recommendation, and that you 
were nowhere until you had — like old port — acquired 
"body" and "age!" 

Our Voyage. 93 



The Voyage. — Sitka Sound and Harbor. — Baranoff. — Early History. — The 
Town. — Water Supply. — Agriculture. — Former Russian Settlements in 
California. — Russian American Company. — The Fisheries. — Kalosh In- 
dians. — Our Experiences of Russian Hospitality.— Sitka in new Hands. 
— Two Sundays in a Week. — Kodiak Ice. — Formal Transfer of Alaska. 

On the 30th of July, 1865, I bade a final adieu to 
Victoria, joined the W. U. Telegraph Company's steamer 
"Wright," and the following day we were en route for Sit- 
ka, the then capital of Kussian America. 

Our voyage, made in calm summer weather, was not 
specially eventful. Early in our trip we were unfortunate 
enough to lose one of the fans of our screw, which of course 
somewhat diminished the speed of our vessel. At Port 
M'lSTeil, near Fort Eupert, V. I., we stopped to take on 
board a small quantity of native coal to test its value for 
steaming purposes. 

After threading Johnstone Straits, we passed to the north 
of Vancouver Island, and outside Queen Charlotte's Isl- 
and. I mention this fact because there is well known to 
be an "inside passage" threading the archipelago of isl- 
ands north of Vancouver Island. In winter it may pos- 
sibly be the better route, but it is of a difficult and tortuous 

On the 8th of August we reached the intricate and rock- 
girt shores of Sitka Sound, and soon came to an anchor im- 
mediately abreast of the town of Sitka. The harbor, though 
small, is commodious, and the water is usually as smooth 

94 Sitka. 

as a mill-pond. It is in lat. 57° 2' 45" N, long. 135° 17' 
10" W. 

Sitka, or New Archangel, is as yet the only "city" in 
the country, and therefore deserves some little notice. For- 
merly it was exclusively the head-quarters of the Kussian 
American Fur Company, but has now become a town of 
some life, and will probably much increase in size. . 

The island on which Sitka is built is one of a group or 
archipelago, discovered in 1741 by TschirikofT, the compan- 
ion of Behring, who, unlike that brave commander, lived 
to return from his adventurous voyage, the third and last 
of an important series. The island is named in honor of 
BaranofT, the real founder of the settlement of New Arch- 
angel, who for a long period managed the affairs of the 
Kussian American Company in the days of its early history 
— a troubled and eventful time. BaranofT had been a mer- 
chant in Siberia, and was a man of education and superior 
attainments, with a large amount of courage and persever- 
ance. After the establishment of this post, the Kalosh In- 
dians, a neighboring tribe, gave the Eussians much trouble; 
and in 1804, while the commander was absent, they attack- 
ed and murdered the larger part of the garrison, one or 
two Aleuts alone escaping to the Island of Kodiak. Bar- 
anofT returned shortly afterward, and with the assistance of 
a part of Admiral Krusenstern's fleet, then on a voyage in 
the North Pacific, attacked and besieged the Kaloshes till 
they acknowledged themselves beaten ; not, however, un- 
til they had murdered all the old and helpless of their 
number who could not go off with them. They have 
threatened and attacked the town subsequently, and the 
Russians feared them a good deal. At the date of our visit, 
a palisade or stockade divided the Eussian and Indian hab- 
itations, and no native, unless working in some private 
house, was allowed in the town after dark. 

■ ■■ : 


Its Situation. 97 

Sitka was not overlooked during our war with Russia, 
and after the second visit to Petropaulovski, recorded later 
in these pages, the English and French admirals, with a 
portion of the combined fleet, visited the coast. JSTo vessel, 
however, of the squadron entered the port except her maj- 
esty's steamer "Brisk," and the object of their visit was 
merely to ascertain whether any naval force belonging to 
the Czar was to be found there. A compact had been en- 
tered into by the British and Russian Governments that the 
property of the Hudson's Bay Company and of the Russian 
American Company should be respected. The right of 
blockade was, however, reserved, although not exercised in 
this case. The admirals, satisfied that no government ves- 
sels or supplies were there, left Sitka undisturbed. No 
special defenses had been prepared.* 

The town is situated on a low strip of land, the gov- 
ernor's house rising on a rocky height a hundred feet or so 
above the general level. Snow-capped and peaked mount- 
ains, and thickly-wooded hills surround it, and Mount Edg- 
cumbe, on Crooze Island, immediately opposite the town, 
an extinct volcano of eight thousand feet in height, is the 
great land-mark of this port — the most northern harbor on 
the Pacific shores of America. The coloring of the town 
is gay, and the surroundings picturesque. The houses yel- 
low, with sheet-iron roofs painted red, the bright green 
spire and dome of the Greek Church, and the old battered 
hulks, roofed in and used as magazines, lying propped up 
on the rocks at the water's edge, with the antiquated build- 
ings of the Russian Fur Company, gave Sitka an original, 
foreign, and fossilized kind of appearance. 

Landing at the wharf, and passing a battery of ancient 
and dilapidated guns, we first saw the stores and ware- 
houses of the company, where furs of the value of £200,000 

* See "Nautical Magazine," October. 1855. 


98 The Town — Climate. 

were sometimes accumulated. Sitka in itself had but a 
moderate Indian trade, but was the head-quarters of the 
company, whence the peltries of twenty -one different sta- 
tions were annually brought. After passing the governor's 
house, which is perched on a rock, and only reached by a 
steep flight of stairs, we found the bureau and work-shops 
of the company, and a number of the better class of houses 
of employes. On the left of the street, a shrubbery, the 
" Club Gardens," with summer-houses, card and supper 
rooms, and swings for the children, and a little further the 
Greek Church, with its dome and spire of Oriental style, 
overshadowing a plainer Lutheran structure within a few 
steps of it, attracted our attention. Then came the "Club- 
house," occupied by unmarried servants of the company — 
the school-house, from which scholars of promise were sent 
to St. Petersburg — and the hospital, a very neat and clean 
building. Beyond these were a few dozen cottages and 
shanties, and then — the woods! with the one promenade 
of the place running through them. 

Sitka enjoys the unenviable position of being about the 
most rainy place in the world. Kain ceases only when 
there is a good prospect of snow. Warm sunny weather is 
invariably accompanied by the prevalence of fever and pul- 
monary complaints, and rheumatism is looked upon as an 
inevitable concomitant to a residence in the settlement. 
Doubtless the miasma arising from damp and decaying 
vegetable matter is one reason why Sitka is more unhealthy 
in fine weather than in wet: a fact which was constantly 
stated to us by the inhabitants. The winter is by no means 
severe : the thermometer rarely standing below 20° Fahr. 

A vast deal of nonsense has been published and repub- 
lished in the newspapers of the United States relative to 
the agricultural resources of their new acquisition. The 
reader may take my word for it that the culture of a few 

The Fishekies. 99 

potatoes and other vegetables is all that has been done in 
this way, and that the acres of barley mentioned in some 
of these high-flown paragraphs are purely mythical. There 
is not an acre of grain in the whole country. 

For a long period, from 1812 to 1841, the Kussian Com- 
pany had settlements in California, at Koss and Bodega, 
and they have left their name attached to the principal 
stream in that part of the country — Eussian Eiver. In 
1841 Captain Sutter, a well-known Californian of the early 
days, purchased the company's settlements, stock, etc., for 
$30,000. These establishments were kept up expressly 
for the supply of Sitka and the other posts, and were given 
up when they found it more convenient to purchase from 
the Hudson's Bay Company on Vancouver Island. For a 
full account of this the reader is referred to the fifth vol- 
ume of Wilkes's " Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expe- 

The white and half-breed population of Sitka was about 
eight hundred, but has risen since the American occupation 
to about two thousand persons. A company of Eussian 
infantry formed the garrison, and the soldiers were allowed 
to work for the company, receiving extra pay. 

The Eussian American Company, formed on the model 
of our Hudson's Bay Company, commenced its existence 
as a chartered corporation in 1799, but had existed as a 
body of traders and merchants long before that date. Be- 
tween the two fur companies there have been disputes. 
Latterly the coast as far as the Chilcat Eiver had been 
leased by the former to the latter company for trading 
purposes. The most valuable station of the Eussians, 
without exception, was the Island of St. Paul (Pribylov 
Group, in Behring Sea), which yielded the larger part of 
the sea-otter obtained by them. 

In the neighborhood of Sitka extensive fisheries exist- 

100 The Kalosh Indians. 

ed, and from 100,000 to 150,000 salmon were annually 
exported to the Sandwich Islands and elsewhere. Imme- 
diately on the arrival of a boat-load of fish at the wharf, a 
number of the poorer women, some of them Indians, ar- 
ranged themselves in two long lines, and very rapidly 
cleaned and gutted the salmon. A few buckets of water 
were then thrown over the heap, and they were carried to 
the vats, and put in brine at once. Each woman took as 
her share a large fish weighing 20 or 30 lbs., and worth — 
just nothing! It is said that the salmon is, so abundant 
in the streams in the spring-time that they impede the pas- 
sage of boats, and that when a strong south-east wind 
comes, it drives them ashore, where they lie in piles putre- 

The Kalosh Indians seen at Sitka inhabit the coast be- 
tween the Stekine and Chilcat rivers. At the date of our 
visit large numbers were absent, but in winter they are 
said to congregate to the number of 2500. The Chilcat 
Indians also come to Sitka. 

These people dwell in a long line of rude houses oufc 
side the settlement. Their dwellings are shanties on a 
large scale, with a small entrance, often circular in shape, 
and a hole in the roof to let the smoke out. The idea of 
these constructions must have been derived from the Eus 
sians ; in some cases the very unusual circumstance of the 
sleeping-rooms being apart from the main chamber was to 
be observed. 

The Kaloshes are by no means a prepossessing people, 
and have a bad reputation. Their dress is commonly a 
blanket, at least in summer-time; they frequently black 
their faces all over, and sometimes paint themselves in red, 
black, and blue stripes and patches. They wear a pin of 
bone or metal stuck in their lower lip ; this is said to de- 
note maturity ; it is at least never worn by the young. 

The Kalosh Indians. 


They appear to be more than usually lazy natives, proba- 
bly from the fact that Nature has been so kind to them ; 
salmon is abundant, deer and bear meat are to be had for 
the hunting, and the berries are innumerable. Their ca- 
noes are much inferior to those of the lower coast, while their 
skin " baidarkes " (kyacks) are not equal to those of Nor- 
ton Sound and the northern coast. Their grave-boxes or 
tombs are interesting ; they contain only the ashes of the 
dead. These people invariably burn the deceased. On one 
of the boxes I saw a number of faces painted, long tresses 
of human hair depending therefrom. Each head represent- 
ed a victim of the (happily) deceased one's ferocity. In 
his day he was doubtless more esteemed than if he had 
never harmed a fly. All their graves are much ornament- 
ed with carved and painted faces and other devices. 


We shall not readily forget the reception given us by 
the residents of Sitka, who seemed bent on making up for 
the absence of the governor, Prince Maksutoff. Eussian 
hospitality is proverbial, and we all fc somewhat suffered 


Kussian Hospitality. 

therefrom. The first phrase of their language acquired by 
us, was " Petnatchit copla " (fifteen drops). Now this 
quantity — in words so modest — usually meant a good half- 
tumbler of some unmitigated spirit, ranging from Cognac 


to raw vodka, of a class which can only be described by a 
Californian term as "chain lightning," and which was 
pressed upon us on every available occasion. To refuse 
was simply to insult your host. Then memory refuses to 
retain the number of times we had to drink tea, which was 
served sometimes in tumblers, sometimes in cups. I need 
not say the oft-described samovar was in every household. 
Several entertainments — balls, suppers, and a fete in the 
club gardens — were organized for our benefit, and a num- 
ber of visitors came off daily to our fleet of four vessels — 
strangely enough, the only ones in harbor, though the 
company owned many sailing-vessels and steamers. We 
found the Eussians there living on terms of great intimacy 
with their domestics. The latter almost invariably ad- 
dressed their masters and mistresses by their Christian 
names, and often by abbreviations thereof. Thus a gen- 
tleman by name " Ivan " (John) would be so called by his 

Sitka in New Hands. 101 


servants, and his wife, whose name was Maria, but by her 
husband known as Molly, would be so addressed by the 
servants, to the great scandal of propriety. 

But Sitka in the hands of the Eussian Company, and 
Sitka in those of its new owners, are already very different 
things. An Anglo-Eussian newspaper, to be printed in 
.double columns, is projected, and is to appear this spring 
(1868). Town " lots " are held at fabulous prices ; for a 
small log-house $10,000 (£2000) is asked, and I should 
not be surprised to learn that salmon was half a dollar a 
pound, that a dozen " saloons," hotels, barbers' shops, and 
" lager bier " cellars had been started, or especially that 
the Sitka water-works were a great success ! Every " cor- 
respondent's " letter from thence, and I have read a score, 
agrees in one fact, " that our aqueous supply evinces no 
sign of failure !" 

In the " good old Eussian times " there were, it is said, 
about 180 church holidays to the year, now they will be 
confined to Christmas and New Year's days, Washington's 
birthday and the 4th of July (Independence Day). But if 
the enlightened citizens of the country choose to avail 
themselves of the privilege, they can enjoy two Sundays 
each week. Owinsj to the fact that the Russians came 
eastward and we came westward, there is of course a day's 
difference where the two meet, and their Sunday in Sitka 
falls on our Saturday. " The San Franciscan," says a Cal- 
ifornian newspaper, " who arrives at Archangel on Friday 
night, according to his reckoning, will find the stores closed 
and business suspended on the following morning, and so 
will lose not only that day, but the next, too, if his consci- 
entious convictions and the force of # habit are only strong 
enough. On the other hand, the pious Alaskan merchant, 
who belongs to the Greek Church, will look with horror 
. on the impious stranger who offers to trade or swap jack- 

101 Kodiak Ice. 

knives on Sunday, but who on Monday morning suddenly 
assumes a clean shirt, black broadcloth, a nasal twang, and 
that demurely self-satisfied air which is our national idea 
of a religious demeanor." 

As before stated, Sitka itself yielded but a limited 
quantity of furs ; hence the mistake made last year (1867) 
by numerous Jews and other traders, who thought they 
could buy to advantage there. By latest accounts, you 
could almost as cheaply obtain furs in San Francisco ! not 
one of the places in the world most celebrated for moderate 
charges, and in consequence the steamers were well filled 
by disgusted Israelitish traders on their return trips to Cal- 
ifornia. Yet in the north of Russian America — a country 
that few perhaps will venture into — there is undoubtedly 
a large trade yet to be developed, and the energy of the 
American people will hardly let the opportunity pass un- 
improved, if the difficulties in the way of the transpor- 
tation of large quantities of trading-goods and provisions 
do not prove of too serious a nature. I shall have to al- 
lude to this subject again in the chapters on the Yukon 

A San Francisco company leased from the Russians the 
privilege of obtaining ice from St. Paul's, Kodiak Island. 
The Americans, as it is unnecessary perhaps to remark, 
use ice at table to a far greater extent than we do, and in 
the Atlantic States it is sold at an almost nominal price. 
California, about the warmest state in the Union, naturally 
consumes a large quantity of ice. It is cut from an artifi- 
cial lake, which has an area of forty acres. The laborers 
are all Aleuts (Aleutian islanders), and are principally en- 
gaged for three or four months of winter, while the ice is 
firm, in cutting it .up and storing it for summer consump- 
tion. The larger part of this luxury is consumed in San 
Francisco, but it finds its way to Mexican, Central, and even 

A Russian Soldier. 105 

South. American ports. Kodiak,* which is included in the 
purchase, is therefore bj no means an unimportant ac- 

The formal transfer of Russian America to the United 


States authorities took place on October 18, 1867. It is 
said that the Russian flag showed great reluctance to come 
down, and stuck on the yard-arm of the flag-staff. A man 

* On September 5th, 1866, at 4 a.m., there was a very violent earth- 
quake on Kodiak Island. A correspondent of The Aha Californian writing 
thence, said : "The sensation on shipboard was very terrifying, seeming 
as though the ship was going at railway speed over the rocks, while many 
articles came tumbling down which the most violent gale at sea had not dis- 
turbed. Other slight shocks were felt at intervals for four hours in some 
of the southern portions of the island. Huge rocks were torn from their 
places, and came tumbling down the mountains, but no lives were lost." 

106 An Accurate Likeness. 

was sent up to detach the halyards, when it fell on the 
heads of the Kussian soldiers, its appointed defenders ! 

On the preceding page is a representation of one of the 
Sitka " army," copied from an Indian stone carving in my 
possession. Although it may seem a caricature, it is really 
an accurate likeness of the stolid features and antiquated 
cut of the late defenders of Kussian America.* 

* For some additional notes on Sitka, see Appendix (III.). 

Departure from Sitka. 107 




Departure from Sitka. — Oukamok. — Ounga. — Breakers ahead! — Volca- 
noes in Ounimak Pass. — St. Michael's, Norton Sound, AlasRa. — Sound- 
ings of Behring Sea. — Plover Bay, Eastern Siberia. — TheTchuktchis. — 
Tents. — Canoes. — Tchuktchi Strength. — Children. — The irrepressible 
"Naukum." — Native's Idea of the Telegraph. — The "Shenandoah" 
Pirate. — Avatcha Bay. 

During our stay at Sitka, Colonel Bulkley, besides col- 
lecting much valuable information from the Russian Com- 
pany, was engaged in organizing the parties for the Anadyr 
and Yukon rivers. Lieut. M'Crea, in charge of the former 
division, was with his party transferred to the schooner 
"Milton Badger," and dispatched to his destination. The 
Yukon party were mostly on board the bark " Golden 
Gate," then considered the "flag-ship" of our expedition, 
and to this vessel I was myself transferred. I was the 
guest of Captain Scammon, to whose kindness I owe much. 

We left the harbor of Sitka on the 22d August, and the 
entire population turned out to see us depart. They gave 
us a full though rather irregular salute, which nearly 
brought down the old wharf, and we returned it in better 
style. For several days after leaving we kept company 
with the steamer, being in fact towed by her. On the 28th 
we again saw land, the grassy slopes and abrupt cliffs of 
Oukamok Island. There were no trees apparent. On the 
29th we sighted the Peninsula of Aliaska, a jngged rock- 
bound coast with many snow peaks, and the next day we 

108 Breakers Ahead! 

got a glimpse of Cape Ivanoff — a promontory that appear- 
ed at a distance to be detached from the .main-land. Later 
in the day we came to an anchor in Zakharovskaia Bay, 
in the Island of Ounga. Our object in calling there was to 
examine some coal seams known to exist on the coast. 
They proved to be lignite of poor quality, and apparent^ 
not abundant. The seams have been worked, and the prod- 
ucts used on board the Eussian American Fur Company's 
steamers, but not to any great extent. On the 31st Au- 
gust we again started in company with the steamer, but 
the following night our hawser broke, and we parted com- 
pany in a fog. The next morning, while I was quietly 
drawing in the cabin, the steward's boy, a wild Irish 
juvenile, known as " Brick-top," from the red color of his 
moppy head, rushed in with the pleasing announcement of 
" breakers ahead !" and that we were all coming to grief. 
I went on deck, and found some very ugly looking rocks 
on the starboard side within a few hundred yards, and the 
white surf and foam breaking round them. The weather 
was extremely foggy and thick, and the danger while it 
lasted was unmistakable. Captain Scammon, seconded hy 
his officers, soon, however, brought the vessel round, and 
we passed within a hundred yards of them, our craft rolling 
and pitching a good deal. It proved to be a reef outside 
Sanak or Halibut Island— a known, yet dangerous coast. 

On the 3d September, when tacking and trying to make 
Ounimak Pass or Passage, between Ounimak and Ougamok, 
two of the Aleutian Islands, we caught a glimpse through 
the opening mists of. the volcano of Chichaldinskoi. This 
mountain is, on the authority of Liitke, 8935 feet in height, 
and is situated on Ounimak Island. It has a very grace- 
ful form. Near it is a second mountain of less elevation, 
with a jagged double summit, of very odd and irregular 
appearance. On the evening of the 4th Chichaldinskoi 

Nokton Sound. 109 

loomed out very distinctly, and when the clouds cleared 
from it we could see smoke issuing from a large cleft near 
the summit. In Ounimak Passage a second volcano over 
5000 feet in height was seen, and Captain Scammon ob- 
served during the night the fire of one on Akoutan Island. 
The whole chain of the Aleutian Islands is volcanic. They 
deserve an expedition to themselves. 

We arrived in Norton Sound on the 12th September, 
having experienced very rough weather in Behring Sea ; in 
fact, during part of the time we had to " lay to." Ap- 
proaching for the first time these northern coasts of Rus- 
sian America, we observed with surprise the dried-up and 
sunburnt appearance of every thing on shore. The hills 
varied much in color, from shades of crimson and red, to 
tints of brown and yellow. The summer in this country, 
though short, is intensely warm while it lasts ; late in the 
season, hot days alternate with frosty nights, and the vege- 
tation is much affected thereby. We went into the Sound 
carefully taking soundings, arid indeed it was very neces- 
sary, as our later experience will show. We arrived off the 
Island of St. Michael's at 10 a.m. on the 13th, and found 
that our steamer had already called there, and had again 
started for Behring Straits. 

On the Island of St. Michael's, or Michaelovski, is a 
Russian trading-post of some importance, which will be 
hereafter described. Major Kennicott began at once to 
land his party, with their supplies and personal effects, and 
also to fit up the " Lizzie Horner," a small steamer which 
had been brought up on the deck of our ship. She was 
intended for the navigation of the Yukon, but, alas, proved 
worthless, and in fact never left Norton Sound. 

Major Kennicott found at St. Michael's an Indian who 
stated that he had been up the Yukon to its junction with 
the " Porcupine." Colonel Bulkley, before leaving in the 

110 Plovek Bay. 

steamer " Wright," had taken on board a little half-breed 
boy to give him the advantage of a good education in San 
Francisco. This was, of course, done with his friends' per- 
fect consent. On leaving, his Indian mother said to the 
colonel, " Teach him, sir, nothing but good." Could any 
mother have said more ?* 

On the 17th we parted from our exploring friends and 
turned our ship's bows toward the Asiatic coast. Captain 
Scammon made a series of very interesting soundings on 
this trip. Behring Sea is well known to be extremely 
shallow, but few would suppose that the whalers can and 
do anchor in nearly every part of it on occasions, weather 
permitting. Between latitudes 64° and 66° N. the average 
depth is slightly under nineteen and a half fathoms. We 
passed to the south of the large Island of St. Lawrence, and 
found the bottom very even. At the starting-point of this 
voyage — St. Michael's — the soundings gave five fathoms, 
deepening gradually to twenty-five fathoms off the S.B. end 
of St. Lawrence Island. From thence to Plover Bay it 
averaged thirty-five fathoms, and shoaled to nineteen fath- 
oms immediately off the bay itself. The bottom was found 
to consist mainly of a soft mud and sand : one cast off the 
eastern end of St. Lawrence Island near a rocky islet brought 
up gravel. 

On the 22d we made the land off Port Providence, or 
"Plover" Bay, as it has always been called by. the whalers 
who frequent it since the winter of 1848-9, when H. M. S. 
" Plover " laid up there, when on the search for Sir John 

* This boy, with a second taken from Petropaulovski, made good progress 
in San Francisco. Col. Bulkley's object was, of course, eventually to make 
these youths of service to the telegraph company. They were, at the aban- 
donment of the scheme, returned to their friends. Col. Bulkley also took 
down a Tchuktchi boy from Plover Bay, who was educated in the samo 
manner, and we had, at different periods, several Aleutian Islanders (Aleuts) 
as sailors on our vessels. 



The Tchuktchis. 113 

Franklin.* It does not derive its name from whaling 
pursuits, although an ingenious Dutchman of our number 
persisted in calling it "Blubber" Bay. But we were 
doomed to disappointment, for when in sight of the bay a 
gale of wind rose, and we were driven several hundred miles 
to the southward, not regaining our position till the 26th, 
when we went in successfully, to find the " Wright" await- 
ing us. 

Plover Bay, when once you are in it, is a very secure 
haven. It is sheltered at its southern end by a long spit of 
land, and it is no uncommon thing to find several whaling- 
vessels lying inside in the summer. It includes two small- 
er basins ; one known as Emma Harbor, the second to be 
hereafter mentioned. Bare cliffs and rugged mountains 
hem it in on three sides, the mountains composed of an in- 
finite number of fragments split up by the action of frost. 
Innumerable and many-colored lichens and mosses are the 
only vegetation to be seen, exeept on a patch of open 
country near Emma Harbor where domesticated reindeer 

On the spit before mentioned is a village of Tchuktchi 
natives ; their tents are composed of skin. The remains of 
under-ground houses are seen, but the people who used them 
have passed away. The present race makes no use of such 

Although their skin dwellings appear outwardly rough, 
and are patched with every variety of hide — walrus, seal, 
and reindeer — with here and there a fragment of a sail ob- 
tained from the whalers, they are in reality constructed 
over frames built of the large bones of whales and walrus, 
and very admirably put together. In this most exposed 
of villages the wintry blasts must be fearful, yet these peo- 

* Sec Lieut. Hooper's "Tents of the Tuski " for a full account of the 
'•Plover's " stay. 


114 The Tchuktchis. 

pie are to be found there at all seasons. Wood they have 
none, and blubber lamps are the only means they have for 
warming their tents. The frames of some of their skin 
canoes are also of bone. On either side of these craft, which 
are the counterpart of the Greenland " oomiak," it is usual 
to find a seal-skin blown out tight, and the ends secured. 
These serve as floats when the canoe heels over. They 
have very strong fishing-nets, made of thin strips of walrus 

The Tchuktchis appear to be a strongly -built race, al- 
though the inhabitants of this particular village, from in- 
tercourse with whaling- vessels, have been. much demoral- 
ized. I have seen one of these natives carry the awkward 
burden of a carpenter's chest weighing two hundred 
pounds, without apparently considering it any great exer-» 
tion. They are a good-humored people, and not greedier 
than the average of natives, so far as our experience goes. 
They were of some service to a party of our men who win- 
tered there in 1866-7. 

The children are so tightly sewn up in reindeer skin 
clothing that they look like walking bags, and tumble about 
with the greatest impunity. All of these people wear skin 
coats, pantaloons, and boots, excepting only on high days 
in summer, when you may see a few old garments of more 
civilized appearance that have seen better days, and have 
been traded off by the sailors of vessels calling there. 

The true Tchuktchi method of smoking is to swallow 
all the fumes of the tobacco, and I have seen them after six 
or eight pulls at a pipe fall back completely intoxicated for 
the time being. Their pipes are infinitely larger in the 
stem than in the bowl; the latter, indeed, holds an infini- 
tesimally small amount of tobacco. 

It is said that the Tchuktchis murder the old and feeble, 
but only with the victims' consent ! They do not appear 

Nau-Kum." 115 


to indulge in any unnecessary cruelty, but endeavor to 
stupefy the aged sacrifice before letting a vein. This is 
said to be done by putting some substance up the nostrils ; 
fc but the whole statement must be received with caution, al- 
though we derived it from a shrewd native who had been 
much employed by captains of vessels in the capacity of 
interpreter, and who could speak in broken English. 

This man, by name " Nau-kum," was of service on va- 
rious occasions, and was accordingly much petted by us. 
Some of his remarks are worthy of record. On being taken 
down into the engine-room of the " Wright," he examined 
it carefully, and then shaking his head, said solemnly, " Too 
muchee wheel, makee man too muchee think !" His curi- 
osity when on board was unappeasable. " What's that 
fellow ?" was his constant query with regard to any thing 
from the " donkey engine " to the mainmast. On one occa- 
sion he heard two men discussing rather warmly, and could 
not at all understand such unnecessary excitement, " That 
fellow crazy ?" said he. 

Colonel Bulkley gave him a suit of clothes, with gor- 
geous brass buttons, and many other presents. One of our 
men remarked to him, " Why, Nau-kum, you'll be a king 
soon !" " King be d — d," was his extremely radical answer! 

116 The "Shenandoah" Pirate. 

It is of course obvious where he had got his schooling. 
The whalers use such men on occasions as pilots, traders, 
and interpreters, and to Nau-kum in particular I know as 
much as five barrels of villainous whisky have been in- 
trusted, for which he accounted satisfactorily. 

The truth-loving Chippewa, when asked, "Are you a 
Christian Indian ?" promptly replied, " No, I whishky In- 
jen !" and the truthful Tchuktchi would say the same. 
They all appear to be intensely fond of spirits. The traders 
sell them liquor of the most horrible kind, not much supe- 
rior to the " coal oil " or " kerosene " used for lamps. 

They appeared to understand the telegraph scheme in a 
general way, and had probably been enlightened by the 
whaling-captains before our arrival. " Enoch," a very in- 
telligent and quiet native, gave us an outline of the project 
somewhat as follows : " S'pose lope fixy, well — one Melican 
man Plower Bay, make talky all the same San Flancisco 
Melican." Perhaps quite as lucid an explanation as you 
could get from an agricultural laborer or a " city Arab " at 

We had been expecting to meet at some part of our 
northern voyage the famed and dreaded " Shenandoah." 
It is an old story to return to now, but I was an eye-wit- 
ness of the*havoc wrought by her. The whole of the coast 
was strewed with fragments of the vessels burnt by her, and 
the natives had several boats and other remains of her 
wanton doings. She had left the Arctic and Behring Sea 
at the end of June of the same year (1865), but not till thir- 
ty American whaling-vessels had been burnt by her„ The 
captains and crews had been for the most part sent down 
to San Francisco, and I have since met a gentleman who 
was one of the victims, He did not complain of ill-usage 
from the pirate captain, but spoke much of the wholesale 
destruction of private property. The captain of an En- 

Avatcha Bay. 117 

glish whaler, the "Kobert Tawns," of Sydney, had warned 
and saved some of the American vessels, and he was in 
consequence threatened by the "Shenandoah." 

26th-29th September. — The weather was now getting cold 
and brisk, a skin of ice forming on the bay, and icicles 
hanging from the shrouds and ship's boats. We learned 
on good authority that the whole of Plover Bay was fro- 
zen up by the 5th of October in 1864. The smaller bay 
(Emma Harbor), leading out of the main one, was frozen 
up at the above dates. 

On the 29th we got a favorable breeze, and set sail for 
Petropaulovski. The following days were only remarkable 
for light breezes or baffling head winds, and we did not 
make the entrance to Avatcha Bay till the 14th October, 
on which day we got our first glimpse of the grand volca- 
noes which are so important a feature of the scenery in the 
Peninsula of Kamchatka.* On the morning of the 15th 
we passed through the entrance to the Bay of Avatcha, and 
soon dropped anchor outside of the harbor of Petropaul- 
ovski, not, however, before several of the foreign residents 
had boarded us. 

* The above mode of spelling the word represents the sound in a pho- 
netic sense better than the common version. I had opportunities of be- 
coming familiar with the Russian pronunciation of the word on many oc- 
casions, and not merely at this visit. 

118 Petropaulovski. 



The Harbor. — Town. — Monuments. — The Fur-trade. — Kamchatka gen- 
erally. — The Volcanoes. — The Attack of the Allies in 1854. — Their Re- 
turn in 1855. — The "General Teste." — Rejoin the Steamer "Wright." 
— Gale. — Incidents of Storm. — Covert's " Smoke-stack." 

The harbor of Petropaulovski is protected by a long spit, 
an apparently common feature of the coast. Inside it there 
is a good depth of water, and a vessel once in, can ride in 
safety, though storms rage outside. The town encircles the 
haven on the north and east sides, and it is shut in by a 
hilly promontory on the west. Behind the town is some 
steep hilly ground, through a gap in which the volcano 
of Koriatski towers grandly. It is over thirty miles dis- 
tant, and yet, in clear weather, it does not appear five. 

With the exception of a few decent houses, the resi- 
dences of the Russian officials and foreign merchants, the 
town makes no great show. The poorer dwellings are very 
rough indeed, and are almost exclusively rude log-cabins. 
The only noticeable building is the old Greek Church, which 
has painted red and green roofs, and a belfry entirely de- 
tached from the building. It is to be remarked that the 
town, as it existed in Captain Clerke's time, was built on 
the sand-spit,, but no remains or indications of it were dis- 
covered by us. "Petropaulovski was once a military post, 
and had a rather larger population than at present. The 
Cossack soldiers have now been removed to the Amoor. 

Monuments in the Town. 121 

There are two monuments of interest in the town : the 
first in honor of Behring, the other to the memory of La 
Perouse. The former is a cast-iron column of no great 
pretensions : the latter, a nondescript erection of octagonal 
form, constructed of sheet-iron. Neither of these naviga- 
tors is buried in Petropaulovski. Behring's remains lie on 
the island where he died, and which bears his name ; while 
La Perouse and his unfortunate companions suffered ship- 


wreck, and but little traces were ever found of their expe- 
dition. We looked in vain for the monument to Captain 
Clerke (Captain Cook's successor), which existed as late as 
the date of Beechey's visit. The spot (in an enclosure be- 
longing to the captain of the port) where once it stood was 
pointed out to us, much overgrown with nettles and weeds. 
The Kussian American Company had at one period 
stations in Petropaulovski, and other parts of Kamchatka, 

122 Kamchatka. 

but abandoned them, owing doubtless to the competition of 
private traders. To such a pitch has competition brought 
the fur-trade of that country, that it is now only a very 
moderately profitable pursuit. As much as thirty dollars 
— sometimes in hard cash — is. paid for one Siberian sable 
of good quality, and the merchants have frequently to ad- 
vance goods to the native traders and hunters a long time 
before they get any returns. Petropaulovski is one of the 
centres of this trade, but Nijne (New) Kamchatka is the 
present capital. Bolcheretsk was considered the principal 
town formerly, but it has dwindled down to an inconsider- 
able village, and indeed the population, and with it the 
products of Kamchatka, are on the decline. Yet the cli- 
mate is by no means so bad as commonly believed. Col- 
onel Bulkley considered it better than that of some of the 
New England States and Canada, and it is quite certain 
that agriculture is possible. The grass round Petropaul- 
ovski ripens into hay during the brief summer, and garden 
stuff is raised in small quantities in the outskirts of the 

I am convinced that Kamchatka would repay a detailed 
examination. It is a partially settled country ; the Kam- 
chatdales are a good-humored, harmless, semi-civilized race ; 
and the few Eussian officials and settlers would gladly wel- 
come the traveller. The attractions of the country for the 
Alpine climber can not be overstated. The peninsula con- 
tains a chain of volcanic peaks of the grandest character, 
attaining, it is said, in the Klutchevskoi Mountain, a height 
of 16,000 feet. In the country immediately behind Petro- 
paulovski are the three mountains, Koriatski, Avatcha, and 
Koseldskai; the first of these is between eleven and twelve 
thousand feet in height, and is an unfailing land-mark for 
the port. 

From the summit of the steep hills which so nearly en- 


Volcanoes. 125 

closed Petropaulovski, a grand view of these mountains is 
obtained ; a comparatively level country stretches to their 
base. It is, however, covered with rank grass and under- 
brush, and intersected by numerous streams : a journey to 
them would be more easily made in winter time than in 
summer. To the S, S.W. of the town a fourth peak — that 
of Vilutchinski — towers above the coast-line, and is a very 
beautiful feature in the landscape. Petropaulovski has 
been frequently visited by earthquakes, accompanied some- 
times by showers of ashes from these volcanoes. The 
smoke from Koriatski was several times obseryed by us ; 
its pure snows only hid the boiling, bubbling lava beneath. 

The object of our visit was to communicate, by special 
courier, with Major Abasa, a Russian gentleman in our tele- 
graph service who had formed a station at Ghijega, at the 
head of the Ochotsk Sea.* The facilities of travel on the 
peninsula are superior to those on the coast of the above- 
mentioned sea. In winter small Siberian horses, reindeer,' 
and dogs are all employed for sledging purposes. The 
feeding of the dogs of Petropaulovski took place every 
evening, and their yelps and howlings made night hideous. 
One dried salmon per diem was each dog's allowance, and 
they were much better off than their Russian American 
cousins, who in summer have to forage for themselves. 

The hospitality extended to us was almost unlimited. 
Dinners, balls, suppers followed each other in rapid succes- 
sion ; we had a steam-boat excursion in Avatcha Bay. One 
of the dishes common in Petropaulovski was salmon pie, 
constructed apparently of eggs and salmon, covered with a 
crust. Salmon is very abundant in the harbor and neigh- 
boring streams, and some has been put up in salt for ex- 

* See the "Proceedings " of the Royal Geographical Society for Feb. 1 1, 

126 Attack of the Allies 

We also got a little sledging when the snow fell just be- 
fore our departure. The ice was fast forming in the har- 
bor, and it was often a serious undertaking to row ashore. 

It is well known that in 1855 — during the Crimean War 
— Petropaulovski was visited by the Allied fleet. The rec- 
ord of that visit has been duly laid before the public, com- 
mented on, and forgotten ; but it is not so generally known 
that our first attack, the previous year, was by no means a 
subject of congratulation for us, and (although well under- 
stood by naval officers, and especially by those who have 
served on the Pacific station) it has been kept uncommon- 
ly quiet. The fact is that, at the first visit, the wretched 
little town made — greatly to its own surprise — a successful 
resistance, and is very proud of the fact. The inhabitants 
look upon the combat at Petropaulovski as one of the de- 
cisive battles of the world ! 

The narrative I am about to lay before the reader was 
obtained on the spot, but not merely from the Eussians. 
An Englishman — Mr. Fletcher — who had resided there for 
thirty years, and several of the foreign merchants who were 
in the town at the date of the attack, confirmed the Musco- 
vite versions of the story. 

In the autumn of 1854 (28th August) six vessels of war 
— French and English — comprising the "President," "Vi- 
rago," "Pique," "La Forte," " L'Eurydice," and "Obliga- 
do " — arrived off Avatcha Bay ; a gun, placed near the light- 
house at the entrance, was fired by the Eussians, and gave 
the inhabitants of Petropaulovski notice to be on the alert. 
Admiral Price immediately reconnoitered the harbor and 
town, and placed the "Virago" in position at a range of 
2000 yards. 

The Eussians were by no means unprepared. Two of 
their vessels, the "Aurora" and "Dwina," defended the 
harbor, and a chain crossing the narrow entrance shut it in. 

On Petropaulovski in 1854. 127 

There were seven batteries and earth-works, mounting 
about fifty guns of fair calibre. 

The " Virago " commenced the action with a well-di- 
rected fire, and several of the batteries were either tem- 
porarily or entirely disabled. The one farthest from the 
town, on the western side, was taken by a body of marines 
landed for the purpose. The guns were spiked. Four of 
the Allied fleet were specially engaged, and the Eussians 
returned their fire with spirit. There were three batteries 
outside and on the spit, two at the termination of the prom- 
ontory on the western side of the harbor, and one in a 
gorge of the same, which opens on Avatcha Bay. It is in 
this little valley that the monument to La Perouse stands. 

The town was well defended both by nature and by art. 
The hills shut it in so completely that it was apparently 
only vulnerable at the rear, There, a small valley opened 
out into a flat strip of land immediately bordering the bay, 
and although there was a battery on it, it seemed an excel- 
lent spot to land troops. 

Our vessels having taken up a new position and silenced 
the batteries commanding it, 700 marines and sailors were 
put ashore. Half of them were English, half French ; a 
large number of officers accompanied them, while they had 
for guides two Americans said to know the ground. They 
appear to have expected a very easy victory, and hurried 
in a detached and straggling style in the direction of the 
town instead of proceeding in compact form, in military 
order. A number of bushes and small trees existed and 
still exist on the hill-sides surrounding this spot, and be- 
hind them were posted Cossack sharp-shooters, who fired 
into our men, and either from skill or accident picked off 
nearly every officer. The men not seeing their enemy, and 
having lost their leaders, became panic-struck, and fell back 
in disorder. A retreat was sounded, but the men strug- 

128 Eepulse of the Allies. 

gling in the bushes and underbrush (and, in truth, most of 
them being sailors, we're out of their element on land), be- 
came much scattered, and it was generally believed that 
many were killed by the random shots of their companions. 
A number fled up a hill at the rear of the town. Their 
foes pursued and pressed upon them, and many were killed 
by falling over the steep cliff in which the hill terminates. 

The inhabitants — astonished at their own prowess, and 
knowing that they could not hold the town against a more 
vigorous attack, were preparing to vacate it — when the 
fleet weighed anchor and set sail, and no more was seen of 
them that year ! The sudden death of our admiral is al- 
ways attributed to the events of that attack, as he was 
known not to have been killed by a ball from the enemy.* 

Before the second visit in May and June, 1855, every 
body — except the foreign residents — had vacated the town." 
Early in the spring of the same year the Eussian squadron 
had received orders to leave it to its fate at the break-up 
of the ice. The Eussian Government had indeed given up 
all idea of defending so Worthless a town, and, for two rea- 
son's, we also should have left it alone. First, it was an in- 
significant place, and victory could never be glorious; 
while, secondly, it has been — from the time of Cook to our 
own days — famous for the hospitality and assistance ex- 
tended to our explorers and voyagers.f All is not fair in 

When therefore the Allies landed at their second visit 
they found an empty town.f They, however, captured a 
Eussian whaler, and burned some of the government build- 
ings. The latter it is said was done unintentionally, or, 

* See " Nautical Magazine," October, 1855. It is there stated that 107 
English were killed or wounded in the engagement. 

f See Cook, Cochrane, Beechey, and others. 

f For an account of the second visit in 1855, see Tronson's "Voyage to 
Japan, Kamtschatka," etc. 

Eejoin the "Wright." 129 

more probably, was trie work of some wanton jack-tar. 
The batteries and earth-works were of course razed to the 

We all visited the battle-field, and found it still strewed 
with the remains of shells, etc. In getting out ballast from 
a bank near the town, several cannon-balls were unearthed. 
The monument to La Perouse was. peppered all over with 
bullet marks. 

It was at that period that an old French captain, com- 
manding a whaler named the " General Teste," was saved 
from the Eussian hands by a rather ingenious ruse. He 
was in a terrible state of mind when cruising in Behring 
Sea, expecting hourly to lose his vessel, and the American 
captains of the whaling-fleet, pitying him, came to his aid. 
They induced him first to substitute "Washington" for 
" Teste." His vessel then became the " General Washing- 
ton." Next they got him to hoist the "stars and stripes" 
in place of the " tri-color." Lastly, they made him, much 
against his will, keep a bottle of " cocktails " ready mixed 
for all comers ; and by these three devices his vessel es- 
caped detection ! 

On the 31st October I again joined my old friends on 
the " Wright," and on the 1st November we steamed out 
of Avatcha Bay. By-the-by, why will geographers persist 
in spelling the distinctly pronounced Avatcha as though it 
were a difficult and excruciating word ? We have it in all 
shapes — Awatska, Awatscha, Awatcha, and Avatska. From 
long intercourse with educated Russians I know that 
Avatcha represents the word phonetically (and it is useless 
to attempt to render Russian in any other way). 

During the next fortnight we experienced very bad 
weather, which culminated on the 14th in a gale from the 
S.E., in which a series of disasters made us fear for our 
vessel's safety. The first was a novelty in its way. A 


130 Exposed to a Gale. 

rope snapped, our " main boom" swung round and knock- 
ed the funnel overboard ; and, as the weather was so tem- 
pestuous, we had simply to cut the chains or " guys " which 
held it and let it drop to the ocean's bed. A little later 
our steering apparatus got out of order, and our little 
steamer lay in the trough of the sea as helpless as a log, 
steaming being rendered impossible by these two accidents. 
The waves washed over her every few minutes, and her 
bulwarks (or " guards") were so low that we expected ev- 
ery moment to see the " house on deck" carried overboard. 
It .was stove in in a score of places, and the cabins present- 
ed a pitiable spectacle — a wreck of trunks, furniture, and 
crockery. Sail after sail was carried away by the sudden 
squalls, and we were- at length left with nothing to lie under. 
A few long streamers of canvas hanging from the yards 
alone showed where they had been. On the 17th we ship- 
ped a sea, which threatened to engulf us. A torrent rushed 
into the aft cabin, down the stairs, and through the sky- 
light, extinguished the lamps and fire, and left us tumbling 
about in two or three feet of water. This night our vessel 
seemed to be constantly driving under water, and our sail- 
ors were often thrown down and much bruised, although 
no one happily was lost. Captain Marston behaVed with 
great coolness, lashed himself on deck, and remained there 
all night, half-frozen, and with seas washing over him every 
few minutes. We landsmen did not expect to see our na- 
tive element again ; and although I had been in many gales, 
it was, without exception, the very worst I had experienced. 
Fortunately the hull of our vessel was stanch and sound, 
and our pumps in perfect order. 

The storm lasted for nearly a week, and was not devoid 
of incident. For part of one day, the sea driving faster than 
our vessel, acted in such a manner on the screw that, in its 
turn, it worked the engine at a greater rate than we had 

Close of our Voyage. 131 

ever attained by steam ! In the end the coupling was dis- 
connected, fearing injury to the machinery. 

In the " state-room" of the house on deck, occupied by 
Mr. Laborne, our interpreter, and myself, some boxes of soap 
were stowed away. This being constantly worked about 
the floor under water, raised one of the most magnificent 
lathers ever witnessed, which ran through the series of rooms, 
and did not improve our possessions. After the storm had 
subsided, we opened the boxes, to find bars of soap of about 
eighteen inches in length reduced to the dimensions of 
sticks of sealing-wax. 

It became absolutely necessary to rig up something in 
place of our lost funnel, or "smoke-stack," as it is invari- 
ably called by Americans. At length Mr. Covert, our chief 
engineer, hit upon a device. He caused his men to knock 
out one end of a square water- tank, and, with some extra 
sheet-iron, made a chimney about ten feet high, which gave 
sufficient draught to the furnaces. Covert's "patent" was 
a great success, and created some little notice on our ar- 
rival in San Francisco, which took place on the 30th No- 

Thus ended the not uneventful voyage of 1865, in which 
we had gone over 10,000 miles of ocean travel, and we 
were not sorry to reach our head-quarters in the " Bay 
City," and have once more a spell of civilized life. 

132 W. U. Telegraph Expedition 

VOYAGE in the north pacific. 


Organization of the Expedition. — Thirsty medical Man. — Our Fleet. — 
Voyage. — Petropaulovski again. — The Russian Corvette. — Russian 
Wedding. — Heat. — International Picnic. — Voyage north. — Behring's 
Voyages. — Shipwreck. — Death of Behring. — Gulf of Anadyr. — The 
" wandering Tchuktchis." 

The winter of 1865-6 was spent by Colonel Bulkley and 
his staff in San Francisco, and their time was fully occu- 
pied in organizing the parties for the following season. A 
large number of laborers were engaged, and these, with as- 
sistant-surgeons,* quartermasters, and foremen, brought our 
expedition up to a formidable size ; not less than 500 
" white men," besides bands of Cossacks in Eastern Siberia, 
Chinamen in British Columbia, and Indians everywhere, 

* One of these individuals soon after his engagement showed a decided 
leaning toward stimulating fluids, and, having drunk up his salary, was at 
his wit's end to know how to keep up the supply. In each of our com- 
pany's medicine-chests there were a few bottles of wine and brandy, intend- 
ed exclusively for medicinal purposes. These our doctor, in the discharge 
of his arduous duties, soon discovered and finished, but — like Oliver — want- 
ed more. Our hero of the bottle next ferreted out a small can of alcohol, 
which slightly— very slightly— diluted with water, made a drinkable mix- 
ture, and enabled him to hold out a day or two longer. The reader may 
suppose that when this was finished he was nipped in his career. Not a bit 
of it ! Were there not the ethers, tinctures, and spirits contained in every 
well-regulated chest ? Bottle after bottle, phial after phial of spirits of lav- 
ender, peppermint, and sweet nitre followed each other to the same goal. 
There was still the camphor and tincture of myrrh, rhubarb, and aloes left, 
but not for long ; and when there was nothing remaining but the laudanum, 
that also went the same way. About this period his weaknesses were dis- 
covered, and he was discharged from the service. 

Our Fleet — The Voyage. 133 

were employed in building telegraph, exploring the route, 
or transporting goods, during the season of 1866 and fol- 
lowing winter. 

Our fleet alone made a perceptible difference at the 
wharves of San Francisco. We had seven sea-going vessels, 
besides smaller craft; the steamer " Wright" was refitted, 
a clipper, the " Nightingale,"* purchased, and one large and 
two small river steamers built specially for our service. 
We had five barks — several of them excellent vessels. 

Daring the winter, a commissioner from the Eussian 
Imperial Government, M. Paul Anasoff, and Mr. Knox, a 
well-known " correspondent" of the leading New York pa- 
pers, arrived in San Francisco. Both of these gentlemen 
accompanied us on our second voyage. 

On the 23d June, 1866, we left California, and, after an 
uneventful trip, made Petropaulovski once more. Our 
voyage occupied us thirty-one days, the weather being per- 
fect for the whole time, and the ocean unmistakably " Pa- 
cific." Oar little steamer, now fitted up in the best style, 
and carrying heavier spars and more sail, was almost equal 
in accommodation and appearance to a steam-yacht, and 
our trip, taking into consideration the pleasant company on 
board, was simply a holiday excursion — the very antithesis 
of the return voyage in 1865. On the 25th July we ar- 
rived in Petropaulovski Harbor, and found a Eussian cor- 
vette, the "Variag," awaiting our arrival. She was a fine 
steam-vessel of 2156 tons, and her commander, Captain 
Lund, immediately reported, in accordance with his instruc- 
tions, to Colonel Bulkley, our engineer-in-chief. 

The day of our arrival had been fixed for the celebration 

* The " Nightingale's " history had been an eventful one. Built at first 
as a model clipper intended for exhibition in London in 1851, she had been 
for a long period used as a slaver, then captured by the U. S. Government, 
and employed as a blockading vessel during the war, and was now the 
" flag-ship" of our expedition. 

134 Eussian Weddings. 

of two Eussian weddings, and a general invitation was at 
once sent on board. The ceremony commenced at 5 P.M. 
in the old Greek Church, and was rather long and fatiguing. 
The congregation stood: in fact, there was no seats in the 
church. It is the custom for the bride and bridegroom to 
be crowned. In this case the brides wore elaborate head- 
dresses, and considerate male friends — the " best men " of 
the occasion — held the crowns for three-quarters of an 
hour a few inches above the ladies' heads. I imagine they 
were rejoiced when the pairs were satisfactorily spliced ; I 
know that we were, for we were in tight uniforms, ex- 
tremely gorgeous, and equally uncomfortable. 

It is the fashion apparently — when the persons, as in 
this case, are in the lower walks of life — to ask some more 
wealthy individual to be master of the ceremonies, and it is 
understood that he stands all the expenses ! On this occa- 
sion the victim was M. Phillipeus, a merchant, who brings 
his vessels annually from Hong-kong to Kamchatka, and 
the neighboring coasts.* He accepted the burden willingly, 
and gave a very liberal entertainment to the whole town, 
the officers of the " Variag," ourselves, and the captains of. 
several small vessels lying there. So many were invited 
that no one hQuse was large enough for the purpose. The 
party was therefore divided, and the guests occupied two 
buildings, one on either side of the main street. The band 
of the " Yariag" played outside, and a messenger was kept 
constantly running between the two houses to keep the 
merry party in either informed of the nature of the toasts. 
Such rousing cheers and " tigers " had never been heard 
before in that usually sleepy, half-dead town. 

After the feast we adjourned, by invitation, to the house 

* M. Phillipeus took his more valuable furs, etc., annually to St. Peters- 
burg, via the Amoor and Siberia, returning thence to Hong-kong, via Suez. 
He had made this lengthened journey five times at the date of our visit. 

International Picnic. 135 

of the captain of the port, where dancing was kept up with 
great vigor till the small hours next morning. The brides 
had to dance with every one present, and it was amusing 
to see them change from one gentleman to another : during 
the time occupied by one waltz they had ten or a dozen 
partners. Petropaulovski had not nearly ladies enough for 
the invited males, and, in consequence, a number of very 
clean and sedate Kamchatdale peasant-women were asked 
for the occasion. Our efforts at conversation with the latter 
were ludicrous and extremely unsatisfactory ; but with our 
Russian friends of the " Variag " we got along capitally, 
and found them splendid fellows.* The following day the 
brides and their relations paid return complimentary visits. 

We found Petropaulovski in its brief summer garb ; 
wild flowers, coarse grass, and musquitoes all abundant. 
The thermometer stood at 80° in the shade, and the writer 
found himself nodding over his out-door sketching, which 
was perhaps partly due to the constant round of festivities. 
Three months of Russian hospitality would kill most men ; 
and the fortnight spent on this visit was the hardest work 
I have ever done in my life — done, too, at a time when the 
summer heat was intense, and when every one who could 
got into silk, duck, or alpaca clothing — like that worn in 
tropical countries. Our preconceived ideas of Kamchatka 
were entirely upset. 

I shall never forget an " international " picnic held dur- 
ing our stay, in which the representatives of six or eight 
countries took part. There were European and Asiatic 

* These gentlemen all spoke, more or less fluently, French and English, 
or rather American. The reader is doubtless aware that at the termination 
of the Crimean War, French — once the court language in Russia — got out 
of favor there ; but he may not know that the American tongue was ordered 
to be taught in place of English at the universities and schools — a distinction 
without a difference. So, at least, I was informed by an intelligent Russian 

136 Voyage North. 

Russians — from the Finlander to the Kamchatdale ; Ameri- 
cans, Northerners and Southerners; Englishmen, French- 
men, Germans, and an Italian. 

Chatting in a babel tongue, we walked leisurely by an 
upland path, skirting beautiful Avatcha Bay, till we found 
a grassy opening, pleasantly shaded, where the servants 
and sailors were beginning to unpack the hampers. The 
weather was perfect ; there was scarcely a ripple on the 
blue water below us ; flowers made the air fragrant ; and 
but for an occasional musquito, we should have forgotten 
we were on earth at all ! And then — bliss of blisses ! — 
we not merely raised a cloud of balmy smoke, but were 
encouraged therein by the sanction of our lady friends, 
some of whom joined us. At all their entertainments, or 
at quieter family parties, cigars and cigarettes were always 
served with the tea and coffee, and the ladies retained their 
seats with us. Would it were so in our own otherwise — 
more or less — happy land ! When we were tired of games 
— one of them a Russian version of " hunt the slipper " — 
and toasts and songs, an al fresco repast was served, and we 
did not leave the place till long after twinkling stars studded 
the heavens. 

It would be a serious undertaking to acknowledge duly 
all the kindness lavished upon us by the Russians and 
foreign residents. Messrs. Pflueger, Peirce, and Hunter, of 
the Grerman and American houses, did every thing to make 
our stay agreeable. 

Messrs. Anasoff and Knox now left us, and were con- 
veyed to various points on the Ochotsk Sea on board the 
" Yariag," and eventually went to Nicolaiefski, at the 
mouth of the Amoor. From thence Mr. Knox made the 
trip, via Siberia, to St. Petersburg. 

We left Petropaulovski on the 6th of August, and then 
steamed up the coast, keeping in sight of land for several 

Eiver Kamchatka. 137 

days. Not merely is it a grand and rugged coast-line, but 
the ever-recurring volcanic peaks are a great source of 
beauty and interest. 

Many of these mountains appeared at this season to be 
very bare of snow. The volcano of Koriatski — which as 
we had seen it, in the late autumn-time of the previous 
year, was one vast sheet of snow — now showed immense 
sterile rocky sides. 

On the 8th August we passed the promotory which 
terminates in the two capes Kamchatka and Stolbovoy. It 
had the appearance of two islands detached from the main- 
land, the intervening country being low. This — a circum- 
stance to be constantly observed on all coasts — was perhaps 
specially noticeable on this. The Island of St. Lawrence 
in Behring Sea, which I have passed twice, was a very 
prominent example. It has always appeared to me that 
the apparent gradual rise of a coast, seen from the sea as 
you approach it, affords a far better proof of the rotundity 
of the earth than the illustration usually employed, that of 
a ship, which you are supposed to see by installments, from 
the main -royal sail (if not from the "sky-scraper" or 
" moon-raker ") to the hull. The fact is that the royal and 
top-gallant sails of a vessel on the utmost verge of the hori- 
zon may be, in certain lights, barely distinguishable, while 
the dark outline of an irregular and rock-bound coast can 
be seen by any one. First, may be, appears a mountain - 
peak towering in solitary grandeur above the coast-line, 
and often far behind it, then the highlands and hills, then 
the cliffs and lowlands, and, lastly, the flats and beaches. 

Immediately by Cape Kamchatka the river of the same 
name empties into Behring Sea. 

It was from this river that Behring sailed on his first 
voyages, and his name will ever be associated with the 
coast. He deserves to rank among the great adventurers 

138 Behring's Voyages. 

of the last century, yet his voyages are little known. He 
was a Dane, drawn into the Eussian service by the fame 
of Peter the Great, and his expeditions had been directly 
organized by that sagacious monarch. Peter did not, how- 
ever, live to carry them out. Their principal object was 
.to find out whether Asia and America were one, or whether 
any part of their coasts were contiguous. Miiller, the his- 
torian of Behring's life, who accompanied him on land, but 
does not appear to have made any sea-voyages with him 
whatever, says, " The Empress Catherine, as she endeavor- 
ed in all points to execute most precisely the plans of her 
deceased husband, in a manner began her reign with an 
order for the expedition to Kamtschatka." Vitus Behring 
was to be commander, and to be assisted by two lieuten- 
ants, Martin Spanberg and Alexei TschirikofF. They left 
St. Petersburg on the 5th of February, 1725, and proceeded 
to the Ochotsk Sea, via Siberia. It gives some idea of the 
difficult nature of the overland route in those days to find 
that it occupied them over two years to transport their 
outfit to Ochotsk. From thence, after a vessel had been 
specially built for them, they crossed to Bolcheretsk in 
Kamchatka, and the following winter transported their 
provisions and naval stores to the town of Nishni (New), 
Kamchatka. " On the 4th of April, 1728," says Miiller, 
" a boat was put upon the stocks, like the packet-boats 
used in the Baltick ; and on the 10th of July was launch- 
ed, and named the boat Gabriel." On the 20th of the same 
month they went to sea. Behring followed the E. coast of 
Kamchatka and Siberia, and discovered the Island of St. 
Lawrence. He reached as far north as lat. 67° 18', and 
then found the coast trend to the west, whereon he seems 
to have come to the conclusion that he had reached the ex- 
tremity of Asia, and that there was no connection between 
the continents. In the main point, of course, he was right; 

Beheing's Second Expedition. 139 

but he was totally wrong in bis conclusion as to the Asiatic 
coast commencing its westward course from the point 
reached by him. He returned to the Kamchatka River 
without serious injury to his vessel. The second voyage 
of his first expedition calls for little remark, as he was un- 
able, from contrary winds, to carry out his plans, which 
were virtually to attempt the discovery of the Pacific 
shores of America. He eventually sailed round the south 
promontory of Kamchatka and returned by Ochotsk to St. 

But it is to the second expedition of Behring that we 
must look for adventure and interest. He, with his two 
faithful lieutenants, proposed it ; and they were all pro- 
moted, a number of naval lieutenants and midshipmen being 
ordered to join them. Muller says, " The design of the first 
voyage was not brought on the carpet again upon this oc- 
casion, since it was looked upon as completed ; but instead 
of that, orders were given to make voyages, as well eastward 
to the continent of America as southward to Japan, and to 
discover if possible, at the same time, through the frozen 
sea the north passage, which had been so frequently attempt- 
ed by the English and Dutch. The Senate, the Admiralt}^ 
Office, and the Academy of Sciences all took their parts to 
complete this, important undertaking." Several scientific 
professors volunteered to accompany Behring (John George 
Gmelin, Lewis de Lisle de la Croyere, S. Muller, and Steller, 
a student), and were nominated for the purpose. Two of 
these individuals never went to sea, but confined themselves 
to various researches in Siberia. One of Behring's subordi- 
nates — Spanberg— made at this time a voyage from Ochotsk 
to Japan ; but it is aside from the narrative of Behring's 

After much trouble in transporting their goods and build- 
ing ships, they at last, on the 4th of July, 1741, went to sea, 

140 Fate of Behring and his Crew. 

their port of departure being this time Vetropaulovski. On 
the 20th of the same month the vessels of their little fleet 
got separated during a storm, and each had to prosecute the 
voyage alone. They discovered many of the Aleutian and 
other islands nearer the American coast, and had many ad- 
ventures with the natives. At length the scurvy made its 
appearance among them, and Behring turned back to try and 
make the coast of Kamchatka. The sickness increased, and 
so weakened the crew that " two sailors who used to be at 
the rudder were obliged to be led in by two others who 
could hardly walk. And when one could sit and steer no 
longer, another in little better condition supplied his place. 
Many sails they durst not hoist, because there was nobody 
to lower them in case of need." At last land appeared, and 
a council was held ; they determined to sail toward it, and 
getting near it, they dropped anchor. A violent storm rose, 
and the ship was driven on the rocks, which she touched ; 
they cast their second anchor ; its cable was: torn in pieces 
before the anchor took ground. A great sea pitched them 
clean over the rocks, behind which, however, they found 
quieter water, and the crew having rested, at last put their 
boat overboard, and some of them went ashore. There was 
but little drift-wood, and no trees on the island ; hence they 
earne to the determination to roof over some small ravines 
they found near the beach. On the " 8th of November a 
beginning was made to land the sick, but some died as soon 
as they were brought from between decks in the open air, 
others during the time they were on the deck, some in the 
boat, and many more as soon as they- were brought on 

On the 9th of November, the commander, Behring — him- 
self prostrated by scurvy — was brought ashore on a hand- 
barrow, and a month later died on this island, which now, 
in consequence, bears his name. " He may have been said 

Gulf of Anadyr. 141 

to be buried half alive, for the sand rolling down continual- 
ly from the side of the ditch in which he lay, and covering 
his feet, he at last would not suffer it to be removed, and 
said that he felt some warmth from it, which otherwise he 
should want in the remaining parts of his body ; and thus 
the sand increased to his belly, so that after his decease they 
were obliged to scrape him out of the ground in order to 
inter him in a proper manner." 

Their vessel, lying unguarded, was wrecked in a storm, 
and the larger part of their provisions lost. They subsisted 
for a longtime on dead whales that had been driven ashore. 
At last, in the spring, they came to the conclusion to try and 
break up the wreck and construct a smaller vessel from its 
remains, which was done, and they left the island. At last, 
to their great joy, they reached the coast of Kamchatka. 
The previous autumn, Tschirikoff, the companion of Behr- 
ing, had arrived at Petropaulovski, with the loss of twenty- 
one men by scurvy, and the Professor de la Croyere, who 
had lingered to the end of the voyage, died before they could 
get him ashore.* 

Late in the evening of the 13th August we reached the 
Gulf of Anadyr (pronounced Anarder, and not "Annie 
dear,'? as some of our men persisted in calling it), and an- 
chored till daylight next morning. The land round it was 
low, and, in spite of the heat of the weather, a good deal of 
ice and snow remained packed on the beach. We steamed 
slowly up the gulf, and very soon some Tchuktchi natives 
came off, and convinced us that they were men and breth- 
ren by asking for " lum " (rum) and " tabak." On approach- 
ing the entrance to Anadyr Bay there is a ven T curious isl- 

* In the above narrative I have followed Muller exclusively. A second, 
and not very different account, was given to the world in the journal of Stel- 
ler, which is to be found, translated in an abbreviated form, in the fourth 
edition of Coxe's "Russian Discoveries." 

142 A Tchuktchi Village. 

land, to which we gave the name of " Sarcophagus, ' ; from a 
supposed resemblance. The entrance to the bay is about 
a mile and a half wide at the narrowest point. 

We came to anchor off a Tchuktchi village similar to 
that in Plover Bay before described. On shore large herds 
of domesticated reindeer were peacefully grazing. It need 
not be stated that we immediately bargained for some. 
These constitute the wealth of the " wandering Tchuktchis ;" 
some of them own many thousands, and employ their poor- 
er countrymen in herding them. They wander from place 
to place with their deer, and may be regarded as Arctic pa- 

Boat Expedition to the Anadyr. 143 


Tchuktchi with Letter of Recommendation. — Boat Expedition to the River. 
— Our Explorers. — Their Experiences. — The Anadyr River. — Tchuktchi 
Thieves. — Plover Bay. — Nau-kum again. — Advertising in Behring Straits. 
— Telegraph Station erected. — Foraging with a Vengeance. — Whaling. 
— Norton Sound. — Alaska. — Death of Major Kennicott. 

One of the Tchuktchis immediately on our arrival has- 
tened on board with a letter. It was from Mr. M'Crea, the 
officer in charge of the explorations at the Anadyr, and stated 
that "a bigger liar never walked the earth" than the gen- 
tleman who delivered the epistle, and cautioned us against 
him. He bore the euphonious title of " O-cock-cray." 

On the 15th a boat expedition to the mouth of the Ana- 
dyr River was organized, and I obtained permission to ac- 
company it. The second mate of the steamer, Mr. Laborne, 
and myself, with three sailors, formed the party. We had 
nothing to guide us but a sketch chart, constructed the pre- 
ceding year by two of our captains, and there is little relia- 
ble information on any part of the country. On the eastern 
side of the bay, Mount Dionysius, a mountain of no great 
height, is the only landmark of the district. We steered 
due west from it. The weather was foggy and showery, 
but a favoring breeze helped us on, and we proceeded stead- 
ily for several hours, when we noticed an opening in the 
land a little to the south of west, and immediately put our 
boat's head for it. Soon we found the bay getting very 
shoal, so much so that in sailing we left a " tail " of discol- 

1U "Camp M'Crea." 

ored water behind us, from constantly touching bottom on 
sand-bars. Sometimes we stuck, and had to lower the sail 
and get out in the water to help our boat off. We then had 
to tack and keep off, and by this we lost much time. In 
the evening we had to give up for the time being, and ran 
in to a spit of land to the south of the opening. It was rain- 
ing hard, and we found it rather difficult to raise a fire from 
the scanty underbrush and drift-wood. We at length suc- 
ceeded, and the sailors rigged up a shelter-tent from the 
oars, mast, and sail. But for the rain the musquitoes would 
have been out in full force, for even as it was they gave us 
very decided intimations of their existence. 

Inside the spit there appeared to be a second bay, and 
from the number of " snags " and small trees stuck on the 
sand-bars, it was evident that a river entered there. Early 
the next morning we again started. Laborne's recollections 
of a trip the preceding year made him decide, as it proved 
rightly, that the Anadyr must be further to the west. About 
9 A.M. we found the right opening, and a little later reached 
" Camp M'Crea," at the mouth of the river. 

The journey had been undertaken in order to leave a 
notice for the explorers there, but we did not expect to meet 
any of them, so that on entering their log-house we were 
much surprised to find four of our old friends. They had 
been subsisting for about two months on an exclusive diet 
of salmon, which fish is abundant in the river. They had 
almost given up expecting to see any of the expedition ; we, 
on the other hand, believed them to be at the Ochotsk Sea. 
Three of these gentlemen, M'Crea, Harder, and Smith, be- 
longed to this section, but my astonishment was great to find 
with them Mr. Bush, who had made, the entire journey 
from the Amoor Eiver to the mouth of the Anadyr the pre- 
ceding winter. His trip of at least 2500 miles deserves to 
rank as the most remarkable of the many undertaken by 

Experiences of our Explorers. 145 

members of our expedition. Nearly the first thing our 
friends asked was, " Have # you brought any grub?" and we 
soon satisfied them on the point by fetching up a supply of 
bread, tea, and salt meat from the boat, and spreading an 
extempore lunch. They had got heartily sick of " tou- 
jours" salmon, and infinitely preferred salt pork ! 

As we all very naturally wished to reach the steamer 
before night, we stopped but an hour or so and then start- 
ed back, leaving Harder, by his own agreement, to keep 
camp. We rowed the entire distance, thirty miles, while 
it rained incessantly ; but we made the time pass very 
quickly in a most animated and disjointed conversation. 
Our friends had been absent a year from civilization, and 
we were curious in regard to their travels; and as each 
asked for what came uppermost, our spasmodic discussion 
would have puzzled a stranger. Now it was dog-sleighing, 
or reindeer riding ; now the policy of the President, or the 
last opera ; now the latest events in California, or those of 
the Anadyr. Tchuktchi, Lamutki, or Koriak lore was 
mixed with inquiries for absent friends, and nitro-glycerine 
explosions with Anadyr scandal. 

The Anadyr River, as we learned from these gentlemen, 
is subject to violent freshets in the spring ; it then rises 
fifteen to twenty feet above its usual level, flooding the 
country in all directions. It is navigable for 300 miles, and 
has no rapids of importance in that distance. A consider- 
able amount of light timber was found on its banks. Our 
explorers had constructed eight log-houses, at intervals of 
twelve miles apart, and we found them in a very tolerable 
building at the mouth of the river. The logs for the latter 
had been rafted down forty miles. Mr. Bush told me that 
the natives catch and dry a quantity of salmon, and that 
,deer are abundant. The latter, crossing the streams in 
herds, are speared in the water. The Tchuktchis have 


146 Native Thieves' Booty. 

small canoes constructed of three planks, called " vetkas," 
which are used mainly for this purpose. Geese are plenti- 
ful, and, when moulting, are driven ashore by the natives, 
and knocked on the head by others remaining there. Mus- 
quitoes are a great pest in the short summer season. The 
lowest cold experienced by our friends during the preced- 
ing winter of 1865-6 was— 52° Fahr., or 84° below freezing. 

We were also informed that the opening in the land mis- 
taken by us for the Anadyr Eiver was the mouth of a large 
river called by the natives the " Arnoura." A third stream 
enters Anadyr Bay from the north, and the effect of so 
much river-water falling into what would otherwise be an 
arm of the sea is to render it entirely fresh. Our steamer 
watered from the bay itself, the hose being simply put over- 
board, and the pumps set to work at filling the tanks. 

During Mr. M'Crea's absence on lengthened explora- 
tions, the natives had broken into his hut, and had stolen 
a quantity of powdered "arsenic intended for the preserva- 
tion of specimens. They probably mistook it for sugar. 
The result was never known. They also carried off a bot- 
tle of liniment, supposing it to be whisky. It was com- 
posed of turpentine, sugar of lead, etc.; the native who 
drank it will never steal again ! One man was known to 
have been killed by it. 

On the 16th we left the Anadyr direct for Plover Bay, 
and here we met several of our vessels. My good friend, 
Major "Wright, though but just risen from a bed of sick- 
ness, had made a very successful exploration through the 
barren country toward Pentigu Gulf. The irrepressible 
"Nau-kum," the native spoken of at our first visit, had ac- 
companied him. " Nothing," said Wright, speaking of this 
trip, " that the ' white man ' did could astonish him or make 
him for an instant lose his gravity, except the introduction 
of pepper-sauce into his food. The taste of this was a nov- 

Plover Bay. 147 

elty, and after an experiment nothing could induce him to 
repeat it. He says : ' Me sabe good deal, but me no sabe 
white man eat fire on meat.' Having been presented with 
a complete suit of woolen clothing, he sported it with much 
dignity, varying his costume now and then by wearing his 
drawers about his neck. His tent may easily be found by 
any enterprising traveller, as over the door is one of Heus- 
ton and Hastings's signs, while the door-post is ornamented 
with a poster directing every body to go to Lamott's for 
hats, caps, etc." 

This was a fact. The signs of several San Francisco 
houses were taken up — as a joke — and left in various parts 
of the coast, where some future traveller may perhaps see 
them. In this instance it attracted a good deal of notice 
from the whalers who frequent the bay, itself within sight 
of Behring Straits. After this, the enterprising advertisers 
who plastered the Pyramids and Palmyra with their post- 
ers must hide their diminished heads. 

Colonel Bulkley caused a small house of planks to be 
constructed for " Nau-kum," and made him many presents. 
My friend Grob — a mechanical draughtsman attached to 
us, and a genius in every form of sketching — made a draw- 
ing, " a dream of the future." It represented the interior 
of Nau-kum's dwelling. Madame, seated on a whisky bar- 
rel, was playing the piano, Mr. Nau-kum engaged in a game 
of billiards in a further apartment, and a small boy, of 
blubbery aspect, handing him the " cock-tails" on a salver. 
The room was picturesque with paddles, skins, preserved- 
meat cans, dogs, and children ; but civilization was tri- 
umphant! I am sorry that I can not include this sketch 
among my illustrations. 

My kind friend, Mrs. Scammon, had accompanied her 
husband on this voyage, and she invited "Nau-kum" into 
the cabin to look at some pet canaries. Although he had 

148 Telegraph Station Erected. 

never seen such birds, he preserved a gentlemanly apathy, 
and would show no surprise whatever. Some one, a little 
piqued perhaps that he would not be astonished, said, 
" Why, Nau-kum, they are worth ten dollars each in San 
Francisco!" "Ah," replied he, shrugging his shoulders, 
" too muchee I" 

We stopped the larger part of a month in Plover Bay, 
our carpenters and laborers being engaged in the construc- 
tion of a station. When the flooring and foundations were 
ready, the national and company's flags were raised on a 
tall telegraph-pole, a salute fired, and the health of Kelsey, 
the captain in charge, drunk enthusiastically. Fourteen 
men were left with him for the winter of 1866-7, and im- 
mediately commenced the erection of the line through a 
most rugged and difficult country. 

In spite of the proximity of Plover Bay to the Arctic, 
very little snow remained on the barren country round it, 
except on the distant mountains, or in deep "gulches" or 
gulleys, where it has lain for centuries. "That there 
snow," said one of our sailors to me, pointing to such a 
spot, " is three hundred years old if it's a day. Why, don't 
you see the wrinkles all over the face of it?" Every one 
has noticed the wrinkles and ridges in snow ; but the idea 
of associating age with them was rather original. 

Of course, when our men were landed at their destina- 
tions it was frequently found that some trifles necessary to 
their comfort had been omitted in the hurry of preparation. 
One of the leaders of an exploring party said to his men at 
the last moment, " I haven't time to tell you all you want, 
but look round, and take all you can get." Now, although 
there was much bonhommie generally, and every one, at 
some time or another, helped his acquaintances, not know- 
ing how soon his turn might come, it was not pleasant to 
miss one's favorite coat or boots, knife or scissors, as the case 


Whaling. 149 

might be, from the cabin ; and there were those who took 
an undue advantage of the circumstances to beg, borrow, 
or steal all they could lay their hands on. One man was 
caught going over the side of the vessel with five caps as 
the results of his loot; they were unmistakably forage-caps. 
Several individuals whose packages had been very limited 
in extent in San Francisco went ashore with quite a hand- 
some collection of baggage, and were taken by the natives 
to be persons of much distinction. I am afraid that some 
liberal, free-hearted members of our expedition who re- 
turned to San Francisco were considerably out of pocket in 

In Plover Bay the whalers often succeed in capturing 
their prey in quiet water. We had opportunities of seeing 
their boats in pursuit of white grampus, and afterward of 
true whale. Each boat is known by a distinguishing mark 
on its sail, such as red stripes or a cross ; they can then be 
told at a distance by the vessels to which they respectively 
belong. When the whale is harpooned, and floating dead 
in the water, it is usual to plant a small flag in it. After 
the leviathan is towed alongside the vessel, it is cut up into 
large chunks, and it is a very curious sight to witness the 
deck of a whaling- vessel covered with great masses of blub- 
ber. Eventually it is cut up into " mincemeat," in order 
that all the oil may be extracted, and chopping-knives and 
even mincing-machines are employed for the purpose. The 
oil is boiled out on board, and, if not otherwise informed, a 
stranger seeing a whaler a little way off with volumes of 
smoke and steam arising from it, would suppose that the 
vessel was on fire. On these occasions the sailors have a 
feast of dough-nuts cooked in boiling whale-oil, whale-brain 
fritters, and other joints. My friend, Captain Eedfield, a 
very successful whaler, well known in San Francisco and 
Honolulu, invited me, when in Plover Bay, to witness the 

150 Death of Major Kennicott. 

deck of his vessel with the blubber lying on it, and gave 
me every chance of tasting whale in various shapes. I 
don't think that I wish to repeat the experiment. 

On the 20th we left Plover Bay for Norton Sound, 
Russian America, arriving there on the 24th. We anchor- 
ed under the lee of Whale Island, and later at an anchor- 
age within four miles of our destination, the Island of St. 
Michael's. Norton Sound* is so shallow that vessels fre- 
quently touch bottom at a mile or more from the coast. 
The wind, blowing off land, reduces its depth very per- 
ceptibly, and completely bares sand-bars at the mouths of 
the rivers entering it. The wind, too, very quickly raises 
a bad sea. On the night of the 28-29th a strong gale blew 
from the north-east, and our largest vessel, the "Nightin- 
gale" (drawing 16 feet), touched bottom at stern or bows 
each time she pitched. Men on board were thrown off 
their feet and out of their berths, and but for the soft mud 
bottom she must have sustained injury. 

Here we met the explorers left the preceding season ; 
and very shaggy and unkempt they looked, though, with 
one or two exceptions, in excellent health. But with the 
pleasure of meeting them was mingled one sad regret. 
Poor Kennicott had died suddenly at Nulato, on the 
Yukon, on the 13th May, 1866. His kind-heartedness, 
zeal, and earnestness had endeared him to all of us who 
knew him, and it was believed that anxiety for the welfare 
and success of his party had accelerated his death. 

Kennicott's name, by no means unknown in England, is 
much better known in the United States as that of an in- 
defatigable traveller and collector. In 1859 he started on 

* Norton Sound was surveyed roughly by Captain Cook. It was named, 
in the fashion of those days, after Sir Fletcher Norton, once Speaker of the 
House of Commons (afterward Lord Grantley), and a near relation of 
Captain King, to whom Cook intrusted the exploration. 

Close of the Season. 151 

a prolonged exploration of the Hudson's Bay territory, and 
spent nearly four years in his favorite pursuit as a natural- 
ist. The results of his labor have enriched the collections 
of the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, and the Chi- 
cago Academy of Sciences. Through the former institution 
(which owes its existence to the bequest of an Englishman, 
Mr. Smithson), other museums, in both the Old and New 
World, have benefited ; and his services in the cause of 
science entitle him to the grateful remembrance of his fel- 

His party had followed out his instructions to the letter. 
Ketchum and Labarge had made the first trip through from 
the coast to Fort Yukon, and Ennis had explored the coun- 
try north of Norton Sound as far as Port Clarence. 

On the 1st October we saw the last of the telegraph 
fleet, and watched the " Nightingale " till she was out of 
sight, knowing that for nearly a year our vessels could not 
return. The lateness of the season admonished us to make 
a rapid move for Unalachleet — the head-quarters of this 
section — as " between the seasons" there would be a period 
when travelling would be much impeded or wholly stopped. 
We therefore immediately commenced our preparations for 
leaving St. Michael's. 

152 Redoubt St. Michael's. 



St. Michael's. — The Fort and its Inhabitants. — The "Provalishik." — 
Russian Steam-bath: — " Total Immersion. " — The Island. — Incident of 
Break-up of Ice. — Arrival of dead Indian Sledge-driver. — Steam-boat 
trip. — Steamer laid up. — Russian Post at Unalachleet. — Malemute and 
Kaveak Indians. — Skin Clothing. — Intertribal Commerce. — Trade with 
the Tchuktchis. — Under-ground Houses. — Fishing through the Ice. 

Redoubt St. Michael's, or Michaelovski, the principal 
station of the Russian American Fur Company in this 
northern section of " Walrus-sia," deserves something more 
than a passing notice. It is not merely the best point* for 
a vessel to touch at in order to land goods for the interior, 
including that great tract of country watered by the Yukon, 
but it has been, and is, to a great extent, a central post for 
Indian trade, and for the collection of furs from distant and 
interior posts. It has been already proposed — since the 
American occupation — to make it a military station ; we 
may, not improbably, live to hear of a town springing up 
on the borders of the Arctic, and within 200 miles of Behr- 
ing Straits. 

St. Michael's is (on the authority of Zagoskin) in lat. 
63° 28' K, and long. 161° 44' W. of Greenwich. It is sit- 

* After what has been said about the shallow nature of Norton Sound, 
this might be considered open to doubt ; the practical experience of our ex- 
pedition proved, however, that both the mouths of the Yukon, or Kwich- 
pak, and the northern part of Norton Sound, were even worse, and St. 
Michael's was for over two years our base of supplies. Port Clarence was 
too far north for the goods intended for the Yukon, but is for certain parts 
of the country an excellent place for a station. See Appendix (IV.). 

The Fort and its Inhabitants. 



uated on the south-east side of the island of the same name, 
and was founded in 1833 by Michael Tebenkoff, an ener- 
getic employe of the Eussian Fur Company. 

The station is built on the model of a Hudson's Bay 
Company's fort, with enclosure of pickets, and with bas- 
tions flanking it. Inside are the store-houses and dwellings 
of the employes, including the " casine " (caserne), or general 
barrack, bath and cook-houses. These painted yellow, and 
surmounted by red roofs, gave it rather a gay appearance. 

The inhabitants of the fort — all servants of the company 
— were a very mixed crowd, including pure Russians and 
Finlanders, Yakutz, from Eastern Siberia, Aleuts, from the 
islands, and Creoles, from all parts. They were not a very 
satisfactory body of men ; in point of fact, it is said that 
some of them had been criminals, who had been convicted 
in St. Petersburg, and offered the alternative of going to 

154 Eussian Steam-Bath. 

prison, or into the service of the Eussian American Com- 
pany ! We found them — as did Zagoskin years before — 
much given to laziness and drunkenness. Fortunately 
their opportunity for this latter indulgence was limited, 
usually, to one bout per annum, on the arrival of the Eus- 
sian ship from Sitka with their supplies ; while the " pro- 
valishik," Mr. Stephanoff, the commander of this fort, who 
had charge of the whole district, stood no nonsense with 
themf and was ever ready to make them yield assistance. 
His arguments were of a forcible character : I believe the 
knout formed no part of his establishment, but he used his 
fists with great effect ! To this gentleman we were all very 
much indebted for enforcing the orders of the Eussian 
Company in our behalf; often to the sacrifice of his own 
comfort, to say nothing of the skin from his knuckles. The 
Eussian American Company, however, gave these men sal- 
aries proportioned to their deserts : 1 \ poods of coarse flour 
(about 60 pounds) per month, and from 5d. to 10d per day 
was the average allowance, and most of them were hope- 
lessly in debt to the company. Fish and game at this post 
were not reliable resources, and their pay would barely 
keep them in tea, sugar, tobacco, and clothing. The tea 
used was of a superior and expensive kind (worth 5s. to 5s. 
lOd. a pound in the company's store). 

The true " Eussian steam-bath " was always to be obtained 
at these posts, as at every other settlement we visited, and 
it was very popular among us. The bath-house consisted 
always of two or more chambers, the first used for undress- 
ing, etc. The inner room had a stone furnace, in which a 
fire was lighted till it was intensely hot, and large barrels 
of hot and ice-cold water were always ready. Water was 
from time to time thrown on the heated stones, keeping 
the room full of steam, almost to suffocation. Entering, 
we invariably threw a bowl of cold water over our heads, 

Total Immersion." 1 


and then reclined on shelves or benches provided for the 
purpose till we were thoroughly steamed, then washed in 
hot water. On leaving the room, it was very essential to 
throw cold water again over the head and whole person, or 
headache would result. The transition from the inner to 
the outer room, the latter sometimes having a temperature 
considerably below zero, was very sudden, and made us 
rub with great vigor, but we found ourselves much refresh- 
ed. The Eussians invariably take a nap after the bath. 
Persons with apoplectic tendencies or weak lungs would 
probably suffer from their use ; I have seen men frequently 
sit or stoop down on the floor to get a cool gasp of air; 
owing, perhaps, to the bath-house being too full of steam. 

Outside the post, besides other buildings, there was a 
small chapel, in which, on " prasniks," or holidays of the 
Church, and on each Sunday, a service was performed. A 
priest of the Greek Church, resident at the " Mission " on 
the Lower Yukon, comes down occasionally to baptize the 
natives. The Greek Church practices, it may be observed, 
total immersion, and when an infant is christened it is dipped 
bodily. In the case of Indians, they are baptized in the 
sea at this fort ; and rumor says that some of them have 
been so Christianized many years in succession, in order 
that they may obtain small gilt crosses and other presents 
given them at such times. It becomes an interesting ques- 
tion, whether such a zealous convert counts — in the mis- 
sionary's reports — as one person, or as four or five, as the 
case may be ? 

St. Michael's, though threatened by distant Indians, has 
never been seriously attacked. A small village of Indian 
houses — under-ground, or excavated in the hill — exists near 
the fort. A similar and larger village of natives of the 
same tribe will be hereafter described. 

The Island of St. Michael's is mainly composed of a 

156 Island of St. Michael's. 

porous lava rock, riddled with holes (air bubbles ?) innu- 
merable. This formation apparently extends to the Yu- 
kon, and cliffs of a similar nature, but rather more crum- 
bling in character, were observed by us at the station 
known as the " Mission " (Missie), on the lower part of the 
great river. Zagoskin says that the Indians have a tradi- 
tion that St. Michael's was upheaved from the sea — an oc- 
currence at least possible. A large rocky island (in the 
chain of the Aleutian Islands), known by the Kussians as 
the Bogoslov Volcano, rose from the sea in 1796. The 
same writer says that the spot where the fort now stands 
has been covered by the sea within the memory of Indians 
living at the date of his visit, 1842-3. The water of pools 
and creeks on the island is extremely nauseous, and our 
men always thought they could detect a sulphurous taste 
in it, probably from the decomposition of the rocks just 
mentioned. In fact, all the water used at the fort in sum- 
mer-time is brought from a spring on the main-land. The 
island is thick with moss, covering up, in some places, a 
bed of clay ; berries in summer are abundant, and can be 
obtained fresh in winter by digging through their thick 
covering of snow. There are no trees whatever, and the 
fort is dependent on drift-wood from the mouths of the Yu- 
kon or Kwich-pak, which is fortunately landed in large 
quantities by the prevailing winds and currents all over 
the shores of Norton Sound. A garden at the fort (perhaps 
10 ft. by 3 ft. in size !), which yields a few radishes and 
turnips, proves the practicability of growing something 

The ice in Norton Sound forms early in October, but is 
frequently broken up and carried to sea till late in winter. 
On Christmas Eve some of the telegraph employes arrived 
at St. Michael's from Unalachleet, having travelled on the 
ice, sometimes at a distance of a mile or two from the coast. 

ETead Indian Sledge-Driver. 157 

They, as usual, were invited in at once by the Kussians to 
tk chipeat," or drink tea, etc. After this was over, they 
sauntered outside the fort to smoke their pipes and look 
after the dogs. What must have been their surprise to 
find that the ice as far as the eye could reach that they 
had last travelled on was broken up and gone on a cruise ! 
Had they been half an hour later, they would have gone 
with it, and would have been floating about Behring Sea 
on a field of ice.* 

On the coast, although the thermometer usually stands 
rather higher than in the interior, the climate is really more 
felt. Nearly all the cases of frost-bite among our men 
occurred while travelling in and north of Norton Sound. 
Again, while clear ice — that is, ice free from a covering of 
snow — is scarce on the rivers except very early in winter, 
it is common for a long period on the coast. When your 
sledge arrives at such, ice, the dogs will often start off at a 
great rate, although, but a few minutes before, they may 
have been proceeding with difficulty. At such a time it is 
usual to jump on and take a ride, and you have to look 
sharp to do it. Now if there is much wind at such a time, 
however warm you may be from previous exercise, you 
chill very readily. Under exactly such circumstances as 
these, the Eussians at St. Michael's were once horrified at 
the arrival of a sledge with an Indian on it, sitting erect, 
but perfectly dead. Unable to stop his dogs, the poor fel- 
low had jumped on his sledge, and had probably frozen to 
death in a few minutes. Such incidents are rare ; but it is 
common enough to find Indians with faces much disfigured, 
and having lost part of their ears or noses. It has been the 
universal testimony of Arctic travellers that comparatively 
moderate cold, with wind, was more to be feared than the 
most extreme temperature without it. 

* Norton Sound was not clear of ice till the third week in June, 1867. 

158 Unalachleet Tkading-PostP. 

By noon on the 2d October we had loaded up a 
" baidarre," a whale-boat, and a little steamer, the " Wild- 
er," left for our use, and by detachment we set off for 
Unalachleet, a distance of sixty miles. 

I took passage on the steamer, and found her crowded 
with freight and passengers to her utmost capacity. She 
was but sixty feet long, with a perfectly flat bottom, and a 
house of planks covering two-thirds of her deck. Outside 
the thermometer stood at about 10° Fahr. ; inside the house 
we were at fever heat. We anchored at night off the In- 
dian village of Taupanica, and early the next morning re- 
sumed our trip, soon reaching the sand-bars outside the 
Unalachleet Eiver immediately opposite Besborough Island, 
where we grounded, and the steamer had to be unloaded 
by Indians in " baidarres." The same evening she entered 
the mouth of the river safely, but it proved her last trip 
for the season. 

On the 7th she was beached for the winter, about eighty 
telegraph-men, Kussians and Indians, assisted in hauling 
her high and dry. The river was almost completely fro- 
zen up, and our little craft a mass of ice from stem to stern. 
It was no small work to break up and clear the space round 
her in the river before she could be moved. 

At the mouth of the Unalachleet River on the north 
bank is the most northern settlement on the coast, a Rus- 
sian trading-post, founded in 1840, and bearing the same 
name. It is in lat. 63° 53' 33" K, and long. 160° 30' 16" 
W., and resembles St. Michael's in being enclosed by a 
picket, but is otherwise on a much smaller and poorer 
scale. The "bidarshik," or head man, had but one room 
for himself and family. The "casine" was occupied by 
several men with families, and by an immense number of 
cockroaches, apparently with families also ! A large 
"pitchka," or oven, occupied an important position in this 

Malemute Indians 


establishment. The windows did not, as at St. Michael's, 
aspire to the dignity of glass, but were, of the gut of fur 
seal, white and translucent, if not transparent. 

To the N.W. of the post was a large village of Malemute 
and Kaveak Indians, a race of tall and stout people, but, in 
other respect, much resembling the Esquimaux. The men 
very generally shaved the crown of the head, and wore the 


ornaments known as the To-tooJc, pieces of bone run through 
holes on either side of the face immediately below the 
mouth. The women were generally tattooed on the chin, 
and wearing ornaments of beads from their hair, and leaden 
or iron bracelets. All adopted skin clothing; the true 
Malemute coat or shirt is square cut at the bottom, is of but 


Malemutb Clothing, 

moderate length, and has a hood almost invariably. The 
woman's dress is longer, and has a rounded shape at 
the lower part of it. Into the composition of these dresses 
many furs may enter ; the hood is almost invariably wolf- 
skin, the long hairs of which shelter and half cover the 
face. Inside *it is sometimes a lining of soft, white Arctic 
hare-skin. The body may be squirrel, mink, marten, seal, 





or reindeer skin, but, in point of fact, is nearly always of the 
latter. This, again, varies much ; it may be the thick cov- 
ering of an old buck, or the but half-developed shin of a 
fawn that has never lived. Zagoskin tells us how it is ob- 
tained, by practicing a great cruelty : the poor doe, known 
to be with young, but driven from place to place by the 
natives till her offspring is prematurely born. Then again 
it may be of the wild, or domesticated reindeer, shot by 

Malemute Boats. 161 

themselves, or imported from the Tchuktchis of the Asiatic 
coast, with whom they carry on a very extensive native 
trade. The Tchuktchis have large herds of tame reindeer 
(some of which I have mentioned at the Anadyr River and 
elsewhere), while the animal is never met with in Russian 
America but in a wild state. I shall have to allude to this 
trade subsequently. The edges of coats and boots are oft- 
en trimmed with strips of the much-prized wolverine skin. 
This animal, the " carcajou " of the trappers, is well-known 
to be so wary and cunning that it is but rarely taken, and 
its fur is valued more highly than any other, without ex- 
ception, by the "natives of the whole coast and interior. 

Pantaloons of seal or reindeer skin are worn" by both 
sexes ; the women's often have the socks attached, and in 
one piece. Their boots vary in length, and in the material 
used for the sides, but all have soles of " maclock," or seal- 
skin, with the hair removed. Fur socks, with the hair 
turned inside, are very common, and mits or gloves are 
made of all shapes and sizes. I have a pair made from 
dog-skin, two feet in length, and coming up far above the 

These natives almost universally use a very unpleasant 
liquid for cleansing purposes.* They tan and soften the 
seal-skin used for boot-soles with it. 

The seal is perhaps their most useful animal, not merely 
furnishing oil and blubber, but the skin used for their ca- 
noes, thongs, nets, lassoes, and boot-soles. Their "bai- 
darres," similar to the " oomiak" of the Greenlander, vary in 
size from those intended for three or four persons to others 
capable of holding fifteen or twenty persons. With them 
they go to sea, and cross the narrow part of Behring Straits. 
Their "baidarres" are similar to the Greenland "kyaok," 

* The scientific reader is referred to a paper by the author in the "Trans- 
actions of the Ethnological Society" for 1S68. 


162 Intertribal Commerce. 

but are more commonly constructed with three holes than 
with one. Both are admirably made ; the frames light and 
strong, the skin covering sewn with sinew, and the seams 
rendered water-tight by rubbing fat into them. The skin 
is prepared in the first instance, while yet the hair is on 
it, by spreading fermented fish-spawn over it, and allow- 
ing it to remain till the hair rots off. It is then stretch- 
ed on a frame, and saturated with the liquid before allud- 
ed to, when it becomes translucent. The fat is removed 
with bone or stone knives, metal being considered likely to 
cut it.' 

In spite of the Eussian posts in Norton' Sound, a large 
part of the Indian trade was carried on with the American 
whaling- vessels who annually visited Port Clarence, Kotze- 
bue Sound, and adjacent coasts, and paid much larger prices 
than the tariff fixed by the fur company. Another impor- 
tant part of the commerce leaves the country by the hands 
of the Tchuktchis before mentioned, who cross from the 
coast of Siberia by the narrow part of Behring Straits, and 
generally meet the Kaveaks and Malemutes in Port Clarence. 
It is said that the natives from either side also meet on the 
Diomede Islands in the straits. 

Intertribal commerce goes on to such an extent that 
clothing worn hundreds of miles up the Yukon, and in oth- 
er parts of the interior of Eussian America, is of Tchuktchis 
origin, and is made up by the women of the coast tribes, 
who sew better than those of the interior. This trade is 
principally for tame reindeer skins, of which the Tchuktchis 
have an overplus, and in exchange they receive bone, oil, 
and the furs of smaller animals. By constant inquiry, I 
found that marten (American or Hudson Bay sable of com- 
merce), beaver, and fox skins, taken high up the Yukon, 
traded to the Co-yukons, from them to the coast natives, and 
again from them to the Tchuktchis, eventually reach Eus- 

Trade with the Tchuktchis. 163 

sian traders on the Anadyr River, Eastern Siberia, or the 
American whaling-vessels on the coast. 

One object of Zagoskin's mission was to promote the 
establishment of an additional fort near Behring Straits, in 
order to put a stop to this trade, and he favored the idea of 
placing it in Kotzebue Sound. This was, however, never 
accomplished, and from our party, who wintered in Port 
Clarence, Llearned that the larger part of the furs leave the 
country by that outlet. In spring several hundred natives 
meet there, and, in all probability, some station may now be 
formed in that neighborhood by its American owners.* 

A large proportion of these natives have guns 1 — both 
flint-lock and percussion-cap — obtained in trade. Guns ob- 
tained as far off as the Hudson's Bay Company's fort at the 
junction of the Porcupine, find their way to the coast by 
intertribal barter. The smaller animals, hares, grouse, mar- 
ten, etc., are generally snared. The berries in summer are 
obtained in large quantities, and are eagerly sought. Va- 
rieties resembling blueberries, huckleberries, and a kind of 
dwarf raspberry (resembling in other respects the " salmon- 
berry " of Vancouver Island, etc.), are all abundant. These 
mixed with seal-oil are considered a luxury, and are gath- 
ered in quantities for winter use. I have often obtained 
them in winter from beneath the snow, and in almost as 
fresh a state as when they were first buried. Reindeer fat, 
raw, is always considered a treat, and an Indian can not 
better show his esteem for a white visitor than by present- 
ing him with a piece of buck-fat. 

Their houses are usually under-ground, the roof only 
rising above the surface ; the entrance is by a kind of tun- 
nel or passage, by which you crawl into the room, and a hole 
in the roof lets out the smoke. This, when there is no fire 
on the floor of the room, is covered tightly with a skin. 

* In 1867, Port Clarence was not clear of ice till the third week in -Tune. 

161 Fishing through the Ice. 

Nearly every dwelling has a stage for hanging furs or fish 
on, and a small wooden house or "cache" perched in the 
air on four poles, with a notched log for a ladder, is used to 
stow away supplies, and keep them safe from their dogs, or 
from wild animals prowling round the village. Canoes not 
in use are generally raised above the ground on trestles. 

We frequently saw the Indians at this place engaged in 
fishing through holes made in the ice, catching quantities of 
a small kind of " white-fish." If we gave fish-hooks to the 
natives, they usually tried to cut off the barbs; they took 
the fish so readily that they could afford to lose a few from 
the hook. Involuntarily I thought of patient anglers by the 
brook-side at home waiting a day for a tenth part of the fish 
caught there by an Indian in the same time, and could not 
help coming to the conclusion that the Indian has the best 
of it. In windy weather they frequently erect a screen of 
skins, etc., and stakes. 

Indian Dances. 165 



Indian Town-hall. — Preparations for Dance. — Smoke-consuming Indians. — 
Feast. — Dance. — Chorus. — The Malemutes and Kaveaks. — The Chiefs. — 
" Parka Mania." — Erection of Quarters. — Preparations for Sledge- 

In the village at Unalaclileet, as in most others .of the 
coast, there are buildings set apart for dances and gatherings 
of the people ; at other times, indeed, they are used for oc- 
cupations requiring space, as the manufacture of sledges or 
snow-shoes. These buildings may be regarded as the na- 
tives' town-hall ; orations are made, festivals and feasts are 
held in them, and the passing stranger is sometimes accom- 
modated in them, as in an Eastern caravansary. 

I witnessed several of their public dances ; they are con- 
stantly, indeed, held during winter, and it is surprising to 
see how long and how much the older people are pleased 
by such very monotonous performances. In some of them 
the actors imitate and burlesque the motions of birds and 
quadrupeds, and of course here there is some scope for fun, 
while some of their songs are said to have some meaning, 
although on this point I can not speak positively ; the only 
ones I heard were the same words repeated over and over 

To one dance we were specially invited. On arriving 
at the doorway, we found a narrow subterranean passage 
two and a half feet high, crawling through which we at last 
reached the room, itself partly under-ground and dimly 
lighted by blubber lamps. 


Smoke-Consuming Indians. 

The Indians who were to take part in the dance, chiefly 
young men, were engaged in dressing and bathing them- 
selves in the liquid not before mentioned. All were nude 
to the waist, and wore seal, deer-skin, or cotton pantaloons,' 
with the tails of wolves or dogs hanging behind, and feath- 
ers and cheap handkerchiefs round their heads. The 
elders sat on a bench or shelf running round the entire 
building, and looked on approvingly, while they consumed 
their own smoke, as in the manner of the Tchuktchis, by 
swallowing all they made, and getting partially intoxicated 
thereby. Their pipe-bowls were on the smallest scale, and 
they even diluted their tobacco by mixing willow shavings 
"fine-cut" with it. 


Meantime the women were bringing in contributions of 
berries and fish in large " contogs," or wooden bowls, vary- 
ing in shape from a deep dish to an oblong soup-tureen. 

The performance commenced by the actors ranging them- 
selves in a square, and raising these dishes of provisions to 
the four cardinal points successively, and once to the skies 
with a sudden noise like " swish !" or the flight of a rocket. 

Indian Dance. 167 

May be it meant an offering to the seasons and to the Great 
Spirit. Then came the feast ; and that over, a monotonous 
chorus, with an accompaniment of gongs, was started. The 
gongs were made of seal-gut stretched on a circular frame, 
and were struck with a flat stick. The words of the song 
commenced, " Yung i ya, i ya, i ya!" and continued through- 
out " Yung i ya !" Then a boy sprang out on the floor, he 
was speedily joined by a second, then a third, till a circle 
of twenty was formed. Now they appeared violently at- 
tracted together, and now as much repelled ; now they were 
horrified at one another's conduct, and held up their arms 
in warning gestures, and again all were friends, and made 
pantomime of their happiness. In this performance there 
was nearly as much done by arms and bodies as with the 
feet. When there was a lull in the entertainment, small 
presents were brought round to all the strangers present ; 
mine was a pair of boot-soles of seal-skin. 

So decided an odor at length pervaded the ball-room 
that we one by one dropped off from the festive scene ; the 
Indians kept it up for hours afterward. 

The Malemutes and Kaveaks intermingle considerably, 
and have therefore been spoken of here as one people. 
Their habits, manners, and customs are identical, but they 
speak different dialects,* and inhabit different parts of the 
country. The former extend from the Island of St. Mi- 
chael's to Sound Golovnin," while the latter occupy a still 
more northern country adjacent to Port Clarence and 
Bearing Straits. Although so much resembling the Esqui- 
maux in habits, they are a larger, finer race, and it is by 
no means uncommon to find men of six feet in height; 
some, perhaps, over that standard. Nearly all the women 
are stout and blubbery in aspect, but have good-humored 
features. Both sexes were employed in various ways by 

* For a brief vocabulary of Malemute words, see Appendix (V.). 

168 Malemutes and Kaveaks. 

our expedition, and they were universally considered far 
above the average of Indians in every respect. The Male- 
mute chief, " Aleuyanuk," was a fine-looking old man, 
erect and soldierly, and wearing a mustache and imperial ; 
his manners would not have disgraced a civilized assembly. 
" Comokin," the Kaveak chief, was as useful to us as he 
had been many years before to some of the expeditions 
engaged in the search for Sir John Franklin. 

From our first arrival at Unalachleet, the men had very 
naturally a strong desire to obtain skin clothing for winter 
use, and also as curiosities, and, in the excessive competi- 
tion for the limited supply in the hands of the Eussians 
and Indians, prices went up about 200 per cent. ! This 
was generally known as the "Parka mania" (from parka, 
Russian for skin shirt or coat), and was a great benefit to 
some of the more enterprising Russians, who set their In- 
dian wives to work making up coats, boots, caps, and fur- 
socks in great variety, while they reaped themselves a har- 
vest of five-dollar pieces. We all became extremely well 
informed on the different names and styles of furs. Of 
reindeer alone, we distinguished three varieties; the ordi- 
nary thickly -furred skin was in Russian simply* Many 
scoora ; Nederist was that of fawns of a few months old, 
while Veperat was the half-developed covering of the un- 
born young. We all acquired some little of the Russian 
language, or, rather, that patois of it spoken among the 
low-class Russians and half-breeds, many of whom had 
been born in Russian America. 

During my stay at this station all the men were employ- 
ed in putting up quarters for winter use. A rude erection 
of earth and logs had been built for the telegraph ex- 
plorers the previous season, and now that a party of near- 

* It is impossible to represent in English any thing but the sound "of a 
Russian word, as there are thirty-six letters in the Russian alphabet. 

Erection of Quarters. 169 

ly forty were to winter there and commence the line, it 
was necessary to remodel the establishment. All hands 
then set to work with a will, and officers and men alike 
showed a determination to prove the energy of their race ; 
besides, while some were shivering by night in tents, oth- 
ers were occupying the Kussian employes' quarters, much, 
doubtless, to the disgust of the latter, although they took 
it philosophically. 

The writer soon became au fait at building sod walls, 
and was consequently allowed to follow the natural bent 
of his genius, and each man, as far as possible, did that 
which he could do best. In consequence, we soon. had a 
double-roomed house, well earthed round, and with a large 
open fire-place in one chamber. This fact is mentioned to 
show that an ordinary house on the surface, where, as in 
this neighborhood, there is sufficient wood for fuel, can be 
successfully used in an Arctic climate. The other cham- 
ber, used as a kitchen, had an American cooking-stove ; 
one of those excellent little institutions which will bake, 
boil, stew, fry, and broil in the best manner, with the 
smallest possible expenditure of fuel. 

The officers occupied (with the cockroaches) every avail- 
able corner and bastion of the fort, and several small rooms 
were lined with deer-skins, making very cosy little places 
of them. 

During a portion of the time passed by me at this place 
we had extremely bad weather, with strong N. and N.E. 
winds. The thermometer invariably rose during the prev- 
alence of wind ; it stood at points ranging between + 7° 
and + 32° during our stay. 

Col. Bulkley, our engineer -in -chief, had very kindly 
left to me the privilege of selecting my own course of 
travel, with due regard to the interests of the company. I 
had the previous year volunteered to accompany Major 

170 Preparations for Sledge-Journey. 

Kennicott ; but his party had been completely organized 
before I joined the expedition, and my request could not 
be granted. I was, however, determined to visit the un- 
known Yukon country, which had been, from the com- 
mencement of our explorations, more spoken about than 
any other. Ketchum, who had made his very adventur- 
ous trip the previous summer, promised me every facility, 
and kept his word. Indeed I can say, with, much grati- 
tude, that I received every possible attention from all the 
officers of the expedition, and am especially indebted to 
Messrs. Ennis, Dennison, Dyer, Labarge, and the gentle- 
man just mentioned. 

We knew that early winter was not a favorable time for 
travelling ; the snow, but just fallen, is not " set" as it is 
at a later period, and some parts of the rivers are not com- 
pletely frozen up. We, however, determined to lose no 
time, and commenced our preparations. These included 
the selection and purchase of sledges, dogs, harness, and 
skin clothing, and the division of the " spoil" that fell to 
our share, in flour, tea and sugar, dried apples, bacon, 
beans, and rice. By the 26th of October every thing was 
ready for a start, and on the next morning we commenced 
our journey by the shortest known route from the coast to 
the Yukon Eiver.* 

* Captain Bedford Pirn made — when engaged in the search for Sir John 
Franklin — a very adventurous journey through a country of almost identical 
nature lying between Kotzebue Sound, Unalachleet, and St. Michael's. 
Many of the Russians and half-breeds remembered his visit, and he had 
evidently left a very pleasant impression behind him. 

Sledges and Dogs. 171 



Routes to the Yukon. — Sledges and Dogs. — Our Start. — Our Party. — Una- 
lachleet River. — Brought to a Stand-stilL — Dogs desert. — Ingelete In- 
dians. — Under-ground Houses, etc. — Beans versus Rice. — Indian Clean- 
liness. — Medical Aid. — Ulukuk. — The River. — Indian Trading. 

The distance to that portion of the Yukon we were 
about to visit is, by the mouths of the river, 700 miles, but 
a land route to it is always employed in winter by the 
Russians travelling from Norton Sound. By the latter 
route the total distance from St. Michael's does not exceed 
230 miles, and from Unalachleet is approximately 170 

The Russo-Indian form of sledge adopted by us was a 
very light construction of birch wood, the knees alone 
sometimes made of spruce, while it commonly had bone 
runners. Behind it were usually two guiding-poles, and 
the general appearance when loaded will be seen repre- 
sented on our title-page. A lower and inferior kind, which 
may be regarded as purely Indian, was occasionally used 
by us for very light loads. 

Although our expedition was well fitted out in the ab- 
solute essentials of travel, no provision had been made with 
regard to either sledges or dogs, it having been very nat- 
urally supposed that the country itself was the best source 
from whence to obtain these. We found, however, that 
the dogs were neither plentiful nor of a good class. They 
were hardly above the average of the sneaking, snarling 

172 Our Start. 

Indian curs of Oregon and British Columbia, and it was 
very difficult to make them attached to you — a proof to 
my mind that they had as much of the wolf as the dog in 
them. I have always succeeded in making a good dog my 
friend, and was much chagrined at my want of success 
among these animals. They are very hairy, are of all col- 
ors, iron-gray predominating, have wolfish features and 
short legs ; but their immense bushy tails make up for all 
deficiencies. Taking them all in all, they did good service 
in transporting our goods, and with them all of us made 
many lengthened journeys. Captain Ennis twice made the 
trip from Norton Sound to Port Clarence, Behring Straits ; 
and the journey on the ice from St. Michael's to Unalachleet 
was made a score of times, while that to Nulato must have 
been made a dozen times during the winter of 1866-7. 
The more remarkable journey of Ketchum and Labarge 
will be mentioned hereafter. 

On the morning of the 27th October, at eleven o'clock, 
we bade adieu to our friends, some of whom persisted in 
accompanying us a little way on the frozen surface of the 
Unalachleet Eiver, while the others honored us with a 
grand, but rather irregular volley of blank-cartridge from 
revolvers, muskets, and the old battered cannon of the 
Russian post. Our party comprised nine persons, as fol- 
lows : Captain Ketchum and Lieutenant Labarge, his right- 
hand man, Mr. Dall, a collector for the Smithsonian Insti- 
tute, myself, and Pickett, a man detailed for our service. 
Mr. Francis, engineer of our little steamer, started with us 
on an excursion trip, and three Indians completed our list. 
We took four sledges, each drawn by five dogs, and very 
well laden with a miscellaneous collection of boxes, barrels, 
tools, furs, blankets, and snow-shoes. Each load averaged 
350 lbs. weight. 

The day was beautifully calm and clear, the temperature 

Unalachleet Kivek. 173 

just before starting was +5° Fahr., but got much colder 
during the day. As we had to run alongside of, or behind 
our sledges, we soon found that the heavy fur clothing, so 
very comfortable when stationary, was infinitely too much 
for us when in violent exercise, and we accordingly di- 
vested ourselves of much of it. Many of our workmen 
wore ordinary thick woolen clothing during the greater 
part of winter, but native skin boots were always adopted 
by us. 

The record of this trip will be presented to the reader 
mainly as it stands in my journal. We found the frozen 
river, on whose surface we travelled all day, for the most 
part well covered with snow. In a few patches the wind 
had bared the ice, and there we could observe its true col- 
ors ; sometimes glassy green and transparent, so that we 
could see the pebbly bottom of the shallow stream, in other 
places dark, opaque, and colorless, with the shaded water 
underneath it giving the impression of infinite depth. Some 
few parts of the stream were not completely frozen ; this 
generally occurred on bars or small rapids, where the water 
ran swiftly. The river was of moderate size — as large as 
the Thames at Hampton, but (excepting in the early spring 
freshets) even more shallow. Within a few miles of the 
Russian station we had just left we found spruce-fir and 
birch abundant on the banks of the river, and a certain 
amount of drift-wood — the wreck of larger trees swept from 
the skirts of the woods at times of flood — is brought down 
by the swollen waters at the break-up of the ice. 

A few small accidents varied the day's travel, such as 
the bone runners of our sledges cracking off, or the dogs 
getting loose and making a break for the woods. At four 
o'clock in the afternoon we stopped for a rest, raised a 
good fire of drift-wood on the surface of the ice, and then 
cooked our bacon and made some refreshing tea. We then 

17-t Brought to a Stand-Still. 

resumed our trip by starlight, hoping to make the Indian 
village of Igtigalik the same evening. About six o'clock 
we came to a stand-still ; a great patch of the river was 
entirely open, nor could we see a way round. Attempting 
to creep round the shelving banks, our sledges were half- 
buried in the soft snow; and as the night was very dark, 
and we did not wish to risk losing our loads in the river, 
we came to the conclusion that we must camp. We un- 
loaded the sledges, tied up the dogs, cleared a space in the 
snow at the top of the bank, and raised a magnificent log- 
fire. We spread a quantity of fir-brush on the ground, 
made up our beds on it, and slept closely packed together, 
with a large deer-skin robe covering us. 

We had unfortunately relied on the next village for a 
supply of dog-feed. The Russian post we had just left was 
famous for " ukalee," an inferior kind of salmon dried for 
this purpose ; but our men wintering there would, we 
knew, require so much of it that we had determined to ob- 
tain ours on the route. Our sledges, too, were otherwise 
filled to their uttermost capacity. The poor dogs passed a 
hungry night, howling dismally. We had to place every 
thing eatable out of their reach ; and as they did not object 
to skin clothing or old boots, and would readily devour 
their own harness, it was a somewhat difficult task. 

28th. — In the morning we found that four of our dogs, 
disgusted and hungry, had deserted from our service, and 
we were sure that they had " made tracks " for the Russian 
post. We made an early start in the brisk cold morning 
(temp. — 6° Fahr.), and reached the village without any 
trouble after we had passed round the edge of the open 
water just mentioned. There, however, the thin ice cracked 
beneath the weight of our sledges, and we " kept moving," 
expecting a ducking every moment. 

On the right bank of the river we found a number of 

Under-Ground Houses. 175 

Indian summer dwellings — simply wooden shanties, built 
above ground, with a small doorway, sometimes circular, 
and a hole in the roof to let out the smoke. Behind them 
on posts were the fish-houses, or " caches," as before de- 

On the left bank were a few under-ground houses, in- 
tended for winter use. These were simply square holes in 
the ground, roofed in, and earthed over. The entrance of 
each was always a rude shanty of logs or planks, passing 
into which we found a hole in the ground, the entrance to 
a subterranean passage. Into this we dropped, and crawled 
on our hands and knees into the room. " Amilka," the 
owner of one of these houses, put half his floor at our dis- 


posal, and we cleared it of dirt and encumbrances, and 
spread our skins over it. A part of us stopped there some 
days, studying the manners and customs of the people. 
Their manners might pass, but some of their customs were 
decidedly nasty. Igtigalik (known by the Eussians as 
Nove, or New Ulukuk, to distinguish it from a neighbor- 
ing place of a similar name) was inhabited by a totally 
different tribe from that we had met at Unalachleet, and 
called the Ingelete people. Although only twenty-five 
miles from the Malemute village, they speak an entirely 
different dialect, one — as we afterward discovered — nearly 
allied to the Co-yukon. These people were a fine stout 
race, with fair intelligence, and generally appeared to be 

176 Ingelete Houses. 

very good-humored. Many of the men were above the 
average in stature, and their general appearance much re- 
sembled the coast natives. Polygamy exists, but not to 
any great extent, and occasionally a man discharges his 
wife and takes another, if the first proves barren, or dis- 
appoints with too many girls. Daughters are at a dis- 

Their houses at this time were full of baskets for fish, 
traps, frames for snow-shoes, and parts of sledges in course 
of manufacture. 

The passage-way into these houses was in wet mild 
weather nothing but a sewer. The fire was built on the 
floor in the centre of the chamber, and when it burned low 
the embers and sticks were always thrown out of the smoke- 
hole in the roof by the natives inside, and it was then cov- 
ered with a skin. This process effectually shut in all the 
warmth, but with it a good deal of smoke and carbonic acid 
gas. The entrance-hole was also usually covered with a 
deer-skin, and the mixture of close smells inside the house, 
arising from more or less stale fish, meat, old skin clothes, 
3< oung dogs, dirt, and smoke, was very sickening. The dogs 
scrambling and fighting on the roof above, sometimes tum- 
bled through the smoke-hole on the fire below, upsetting 
all the cooking arrangements, and adding a new smell to 
those above mentioned — that of singed hair ! It need not 
be said that they retreated with great alacrity, yelping and 
snarling as they went. 

In place of soap, these people use for cleansing purposes 
the liquid before mentioned as adopted by the Malemutes. 
The little children are plump and good-tempered, suck a 
stick of ice as though it were barley -sugar, and are totally 
unacquainted with the use of the pocket-handkerchief. 
They seemed to be cowardly. If a strapping youngster 
tumbled down, and bruised or scratched himself, the women 

Ingelete Manners, Etc. 177 

gathered round, gesticulating and making a great fuss. If 
a few drops of blood appeared, they hid their eyes in their 
hands as though it were something too terrible to behold. 

Both men and women smoke; the latter, however, do 
so only on occasions. Many, like the Malemutes and 
Tchuktchis, swallow the smoke ; and their pipe-bowls only 
hold a pinch of tobacco. They also use snuff, rubbing up 
the Russian leaf-tobacco in a kind of wooden pestle and 
mortar. This is simply a circular cup, roughly cut out 
from a knot of wood, and is held in the left hand, while 
the right grasps a stout round stick, the top of which is 
weighted with a stone. They have small oval-shaped 
wooden or bone snuff-boxes, and sniff the powdered tobac- 
co into their nostrils through a small wooden tube. 

At this and other Ingelete villages our goods lay un- 
guarded in our absence, and I can not recall a single case 
of proved dishonesty among them, although we found them 
gradually becoming more greedy in their demands for pay- 
ment. Here we obtained a few Arctic grouse (ptarmigan) 
and dried deer-meat. We all became, from constant prac- 
tice, accomplished cooks ; nor do I think an epicure, es- 
pecially after a day's travel in that appetizing climate, 
would have despised our "telegraph" stews, flavored and 
thickened at the right moment with salt, pepper, and flour. 

It was in Igtigalik that Francis and myself engaged in a 
great discussion — known afterward as a cause celebre — 
" beans versus rice." Francis, but recently arrived from 
China, was persuaded that rice was the staff of life, and 
that millions of Chinamen lived on little else. On the 
other hand, I contended that beans were more nourishing 
and glutinous, and that the miners and travellers of the 
Pacific coast swore by them as the most portable and satis- 
fying of food. Francis pointed out the short time taken to 
cook rice, but I showed that beans, when cooked, were more 


178 Indian Cleanliness. 

inviting food. Beans fried d la mineur, baked & la Yankee, 
or boiled a la clod-hopper, were lively food, compared with, 
insipid rice. We advanced our opinions with deep feeling 
and earnestness on either side, yet I fear left each other, 
and our listeners, exactly where they were before ! 

Apropos of Indian cleanliness, a brief anecdote may be 
narrated. The previous winter an Ingelete had applied to 
Mr. Frederick Smith, a member of our expedition, asking 
him for medical assistance, stating- at the same time that his 
chest pained him. A powerful blister was prescribed, ap- 
plied, and left on all night. In the morning it was expect- 
ed that his breast would be raw ; but the only effect it had 
on his skin was to leave a clean space the exact impression 
of the plaster ! The man got better immediately. 

A little Indian boy, playing with other children, re- 
ceived a gash in the cheek from a knife, and came to us for 
medical aid. A large piece of sticking-plaster was put over 
the wound, and the child was told that he must neither cry, 
talk, nor eat, as it would interfere with the charm of the 
application. The little fellow complied perfectly, would 
not utter a word, and starved himself for a week, so that 
his cut, being absolutely undisturbed, soon healed up, and 
our reputation was established. A small stock of simple 
medicines would be very useful to any future traveller; 
among them should be included pills capable of acting 
powerfully, for natives who had overgorged themselves. 
Healing ointments, for outward application, would, with 
sticking-plaster and lint, be of real service, as a great many 
of the natives suffer from skin diseases. 

During our stay at the village, on October 30th and 31st, 
and on the 1st November, a thaw set in ; the th rmometer 
standing at points between +32° and +35° Fau.v, and the 
wind south. Snow also fell. On the 2d, Dall and Francis 
returned to Unalachleet, with the hope of recovering our 


Ulukuk. 179 

dogs, several more of whom had left our service. Many 
of them had been borrowed from the Indian village, and 
very naturally preferred their lazy life there to hard work 
with us. I saw no dogs in Russian America equal to the 
picked teams in Petropaulovski ; but they had been select- 
ed from the best breeds of the whole peninsula. It was the 
intention of Colonel Bulkley to import a number from 
thence for our use, had the expedition continued for an- 
other season. Before leaving, Ketchum and myself pur- 
chased a small skin boat — which was subsequently used 
on my Yukon trip, and served for 1200 miles of river 
travel. We paid five dollars in American silver, and an. 
axe worth two and a half dollars, so that it was not an ex- 
pensive craft. 

On the 3d we started with four sledges for the upper 
village of Ulukuk, a distance of fifteen miles. Our route 
lay mainly on a " peronose " (as the Russians term a port- 
age), over land thickly covered with soft snow, in which 
our dogs, sledges, and selves were half buried. On the top 
of an ordinary sledge-load we carried our skin canoe, and 
had no small work in helping it along, more especially at 
snow-banks. We crossed many small streams, on which 
the ice was not thoroughly formed, slipping into rather 
cool water up to our waists. We carefully lifted our 
sledges over such places to prevent wetting our goods. On 
some of the tributaries of the river the route was like a 
well-made road, with but a slight covering of snow, and we 
occasionally got a few minutes' ride. It was, however, a 
luxury but rarely attained. In the woods, through which 
our course partly lay, the dogs invariably ran the sledges 
against tl^' trees and stumps, and there they would remain 
till two Oi three of us could clear them. Late in the day 
we arrived at the Ulukuk River, which was still open. 
Rapids abound in it; and there are warm springs in the 

180 Indian Trading. 

neighborhood, so that this stream is but rarely quite frozen 
up. The Ingeletes have availed themselves of this chance 
by placing one of their principal villages near it. They 
have large fish-traps in the stream, and the village is very 
prettily situated on an open space in the woods, hard by 
the river. In the distance is to be seen the range of the 
Ulukuk Mountains, which are seen from the coast, and will 
be hereafter mentioned. Ulukuk is the paradise of this 
part of the country in regard to salmon, salmon-trout, 
grouse, and deer-meat; and a larger number of Ingeletes 
congregate there than in any other of their villages. There 
is no fear of your dogs deserting from such a place. 

The common native mode of cooking is roasting by the 
fire ; some of them have, however, bought iron pots from 
the Eussians. Salmon cooked on a stick placed near the 
fire, and occasionally turned till "done brown," is luscious. 

On the 4th a terrible snow-storm occurred, with a strong 
N".E. wind. We were fortunately at that time in an un- 
der-ground house, exhibiting our treasures in magnetic com- 
passes, pencils, note-books, etc., to an admiring crowd, and 
trading with them for dried fish for our dogs. It would 
be worth the traveller's while to take with him a small 
stock of toys and instruments of a simple nature, in place 
of so much of the conventional rubbish usually brought 
for Indian trade. Beads and bracelets are all very well, 
but burning-glasses, multiplying - glasses, kaleidoscopes, 
whistles, and small things in cutlery are novelties to them. 
Generally speaking, we found that the natives very sensibly 
preferred useful to ornamental things ; and axes, knives, 
powder, caps, flints, and bullets were by far the best goods 
for trading. Yet if they did become violently in love with 
a novelty, of however trifling a nature, there was no price 
they would refuse to give ; and the traveller who has, above 
every thing, to consider the portability of his goods, may, 

Indian Trading. 181 

by selecting those small things which please even grown- 
up children here, save himself the trouble of transporting 
more unwieldy and less attractive goods. On several oc- 
casions we "astonished the natives" by lighting "Pha- 
raoh's serpents," a novelty at that time even in San Fran- 
cisco. A few small fire-works (packed in tin or zinc for 
safe transportation) would be much appreciated by the In- 
dians when gathered at their spring meetings. 

182 Cross the Ulukuk. 



Cross theUlukuk River. — Walking on Snow-shoes. — Ulukuk Mountains. — 
Land travelling. — Versola Sofka. — Patent Camp. — Our frozen Breath. 
— Indian Honesty. — The Use of Snow-shoes. — Warm Springs. — First 
Glimpse of the Yukon. — Coltog. — Old " Stareek." — Travel on the Yu- 
kon. — Alikoff's "Barabba." — Meet a Russian Sledge-train. — Arrival at 

On the morning of the 5th we turned our skin canoe to 
good account by using it to cross the Ulukuk Eiver. By 
making several trips, we transported to the opposite bank 
our sledges, dogs, and goods. At Ulukuk I essayed my 
first pair of snow-shoes, to the amusement of the natives, 


who wondered where a man could have been all his life 
who had not become familiar with their use ! 

On the 6th we made a start, taking two sledges, an In- 
dian man, and a boy ; the latter we named " Tommy." We 
" cached " our skin boat ; it was to be brought up for us at 
a later period. The day was pleasant — temperature +23° 
Fahr. ; — but the snow was fresh and soft, and all of our 
party wore snow-shoes. After a little use, I became quite 

Walking on Snow-Shoes. 188 

proficient. The only secret in wearing them is to strive to 
forget you have them on at all, and to walk exactly as you 
would anywhere else. The snow-shoe then moves forward 
with the foot, but is not lifted much above the snow, and 
the lashings are so arranged that the toe remains fixed, 
while the rest of the foot moves up and down in the usual 
manner. Of course, the great object in using them is to 
diffuse your whole weight over a large surface, and they 
are usually of a good length, sometimes five and a. half feet 
long and upward. An average length is four and a half 
feet. All used in this part of the country are rounded and 
bent upward in front, and pointed behind. They are made 
of birch-wood, covered at either end with a fine network of 
gut ; the lashings for the foot are strips of hide. 

We travelled KJST.E. magnetic, and followed pretty close- 
ly the base of the Ulukuk Mountains, which in themselves 
are hills of inconsiderable altitude, not usually exceeding 
3000 feet in height ; they are, however, conspicuous land- 
marks in a country which is otherwise comparatively level. 
These mountains run north and south for 100 miles. One 
of their outlying hills, the " Versola Sofka," has a very 
graceful rounded form. To the west were hills and mount- 
ains of apparently greater altitude. 

We occasionally stopped for a draught of ice-cold water. 
After breaking a hole in the ice of a creek, I noticed that 
our Indian invariably filled it up with loose snow before 
stooping down on hands and knees to drink. This was 
done to filter the water, and to prevent some little red 
worms, said to infest it, from being swallowed. Our route 
again lay through a " peronose," or portage, and presented 
alternations of open spaces, and light woods of spruce-fir, 
birch, and willow. At 4 P.M. we reached the base of the 
" Yersola Sofka" Mountain, where we found a large frozen 
stream. We camped hard by it, and made a glorious fire 

184 Evening Camp. 

and a bed of aromatic fir-brush ; a screen of canvas, fixed 
behind our camp to the trees, and our snow-shoes stuck in 
the ground, sheltered us from the only enemy we feared — 
the wind. We found from experience that tents were not 
in winter as comfortable as these open camps, as they could 
not be with safety placed sufficiently near the fire. After 
having arranged the camp, unloaded the sledges as far as 
necessary, and fed our dogs, we divested ourselves of our 
damp fur socks and skin boots, and hung them up to dry 
at a moderate distance from the fire. Our Indian mean- 
time took the pots, and went to break a hole in the nearest 
frozen stream, to get the water for our tea. One of us 
sliced the bacon, got out a bag of " hard bread," or biscuit, 
or set to work concocting a stew of dried deer-meat or fresh 
grouse. Soon our meal was over, the ever-grateful pipe 
smoked by one and all of us, and we turned into our 
blankets and furs, the stars looking down calmly upon us 

" Because they'd nothing else to do," 

and in a few minutes we were soundly sleeping. We woke 
in the morning to find our breath congealed in masses of 
ice on our mustaches and other hairy appendages. So 
"great a nuisance was this that many of our men shaved 
closely all winter. A merchant I had met the previous 
summer in Petropaulovski had once narrowly escaped suffo- 
cation from the ice forming in this way on his luxuriant 
beard and mustache. While travelling, he was unfortunate 
enough to wander into the woods and lose his reckoning. 
He remained there a whole night, and in the morning, when 
found by his anxious friends, the ice had almost completely 
glued up his nostrils and mouth. We always had to break 
up the clotted ice formed on our faces in this way, and then 
to perform our limited toilet by taking a little snow in our 
hands and rubbing it over our faces — a very refreshing op- 

Indian Honesty. 185 

eration. We then hastily cooked the breakfast, and were 
soon on our way again. We once or twice made a stew, 
and left it simmering all night at the camp-fire. 

We left the " Yersola Sofka" on the morning of the 7th, 
and, finding the loads too great for our dogs under the cir- 
cumstances, we raised an erection of poles, and deposited 
some bags thereon. I may here say, once for all, that 
our men often left goods, consisting of tea, flour, molasses, 
bacon, and all kinds of miscellaneous items — scattered in 
this way over the country, and that they remained untouch- 
ed by the Indians, who frequently travelled past them. It 
would require some faith in one's species to do the same 
in St. James's Park. This day's travel was especially 
troublesome, the snow was deeper and softer than before, 
some little having recently fallen, and our sledges were per- 
petually upsetting. In order to make a track for our dogs, 
we frequently with the Indian walked on ahead, returned, 
and again started forward, thus going over the ground 
three times. At night, after crossing a stream still open, 
we came to a small and very dilapidated Indian shanty, not 
much better than an open camp, known by the Russians 
as "Ivan's barabba" (house). It was a very wretched 
place, and we found it temporarily occupied by an Indian, 
with wife and child, whose apparent possessions no beggar 
could covet. Yet they appeared happy ; for did they not 
know that on the morrow the hares and ptarmigan could 
be snared, the deer hunted with a little more exertion, and 
that if they were positively " hard up " they could get all 
they wanted for subsistence at the nearest village ? A lit- 
tle tobacco and a few trifles were given them, and from them 
we obtained a light sledge, standing no more than fifteen 
inches above the ground, to be used by us for transporting 
our blankets and light possessions. 

On the 8th snow fell thickly, and travelling was so clifn- 

186 Use of Snow-Shoes. 

cult that with our best exertions we did not make ten miles 
during the day. We camped, thoroughly worn out. Al- 
though the use of snow-shoes renders travelling possible 
where otherwise it would hardly be so, they are very fatigu- 
ing in soft or soggy snow. The difference may be stated 
thus: whereas without them you might sink in three or 
four feet, with them you only sink as many inches. But 
in certain conditions of climate the snow-shoes get loaded 
with adhering snow and ice, and then every time you raise 
your foot you have to lift 10 or 15 lbs. extra. The shoes 
have to be consequently shaken, or otherwise cleared, at 
such times. 

The morning" of the 9th broke fine and clear, with a tem- 
perature of +4° Fahr., and we travelled with greater ease 
through level country diversified by low rises, from which 
we could see the break in the hills toward the Yukon. Our 
Indian, proceeding a good way ahead, shot several ptarmi- 
gan, and we made a fair day's journey of eighteen miles be- 
fore The next morning a north wind blew, and 
made us feel the cold very decidedly. It is wonderful how 
searching the wind is in this Arctic climate: each little 
seam, slit, or tear in your fur or woolen clothing makes you 
aware oi its existence ; and one's nose, ears, and angles 
generally are specially the sufferers. We passed this day 
over a rather more hilly country (in a north-east direction), 
and in the valleys observed many warm springs which are 
said never to freeze in winter. I examined one, and found 
bubbles of gas rising to the surface. The temperature of 
the water was one degree above freezing, while the air was 
twenty-three degrees colder. Toward night it got down to 
zero, and the wind died out. 

We made ajnearly start next morning, travelling E.N.E., 
and later in a more northerly direction. About noon, from 
a slight eminence, we could see a faint streak of blue over 

Mi'ii:' ■■'!;■ 'tii-',;- 1 .:' ■■ : ■■!, ■ 

!i ff j f pp^ 

First Glimpse of the Yukon. 189 

the trees ; we travelled hard to reach it, and at sundown 
broke from the woods, shot down a steep bank, and stood 
on an immense snow-clad field of ice, the mighty Yukon ! 
Hardly a patch of clear ice was to be seen ; all was covered 
by a wintry mantle. Large accumulations of hummocks 
had been in many places forced on the surface before the 
river had become thoroughly frozen, and even now the wa- 
ter was still open, and running swiftly in a few isolated and 
detached streaks. From bank to bank was not less than a 
mile, and several islands were visible in either direction. 
Let the reader think of a river 2000 miles long, and any- 
where at this part of its course from one to four or five miles 
wide, one unbroken mass of snow-covered ice from its source 
to its mouth, and he will then have pictured to himself the 
Yukon in winter. I had been prepared to see a large 
stream, but had formed no conception of the reality. Nei- 
ther pen nor pencil can give any idea of the dreary grand- 
eur, the vast monotony, or the unlimited expanse we saw 
before us.* 

My first acquaintance with the Yukon, in common with 
several of my companions, was made sliding down the bank 
at the rate of " 2.40 " (to use an Americanism), f comfortably 
seated on my snow-shoes. At such snow-banks it is a very 
common thing for the sledge to shoot down faster than the 
dogs, who then get entangled in their harness, run over, and 
mashed in the snow. They frequently break loose at such 
times. The driver often throws himself down, and hangs 
on to the sledge to act as a drag. In Siberia, as I learned 
from my friends who had wintered there, it is usual for the 

* The artist will understand me when I state that it would be necessary, 
in a sketch of this river, to make its width out of all proportion to its height, 
and therefore as a picture it could not be satisfactory. This is nry excuse 
for not reproducing more of my sketches of the Yukon. 

f Two minutes forty seconds is the time taken by a high-class trotting- 
horse to run a mile. 

190 Village of Coltog. 

driver of a sledge, when riding on it, to have a pole or stake, 
which he uses to impede its progress, driving it down into 
the snow every few seconds. 

A quarter of an hour's travelling over this expanse of 
snow brought us to the Ingelete village of Coltog, where 
we again made a halt, and stopped in one of the largest un- 
der-ground houses we had seen ; one inhabited by several 
families. The owner of this dwelling, old "Stareek," re- 
ceived us well, and produced white ptarmigan and berries. 
They were unfortunately short of dog-feed. This is one of 
the constant drawbacks in travelling, and stands much in 
the way of the transportation of large quantities of goods. 
The dogs, of course, weaken quickly without regular feed, 
and very naturally prowl about seeking something to de- 
vour. Provisions, even when packed up in boxes or bar- 
rels, are not safe where there are many dogs. The previous 
year they managed to burst open a keg of oil, and in a very 
short time there was nothing left but a few scattered staves 
and hoops ; on this trip one had gorged himself on half a 
ham, and was in consequence very unwell. 

We stopped over the 12th and 13th at this village ; both 
days being very gusty and stormy. Old " Stareek" har- 
angued his neighbors by the hour together, and they brought 
us a fair amount of supplies. The poor old man — probably 
the " oldest inhabitant " of this district — with his shrivelled 
form, wrinkled face, long scattered hair, stubbly chin, and 
toothless mouth, wagging about in the most uncertain and 
eccentric manner, was a pitiable object ; but we made his 
ancient heart rejoice by presenting him with cotton-drill, 
powder, and balls. Our teams, passing and repassing, would 
have to halt at this village constantly during winter. In 
" Stareek's " house several of the Indians slept on shelves 
or benches built round the walls, and by this means four or 
five families were packed into one room. When camped at 

Tkavel on the Yukon. 191 

these places, after taking our own meals, we invariably filled 
up the tea-kettle, and handed round to each of those natives 
who had done us any service a cup of weak tea, with a little 
broken biscuit floating on the top of it. Some of them have 
acquired from the Kussians a taste for tea, but more espe- 
cially for sugar. As these things were not articles of trade 
at the Eussian Fur Company's posts, they rarely got a taste 
of either; nor do I believe that teaser se, was much cared 
for by them, but that they simply liked it when hot and 

We started up the Yukon on the 14th. An occasional 
patch of open water, running perhaps at the rate* of three 
knots an hour, alone showed us that it was a river at all, 
and the dreary expanse of snow almost made us forget that 
we were on a sheet of ice. The river winds considerably, 
and our course was often, therefore, from one point of land 
to another. We several times crossed from bank to bank 
to cut off corners and bends, and, although we met with 
some obstructions from masses of ice of all forms and shapes 
piled wildly and irregularly around, travelling was on the 
whole immeasurably easier than on the land portage. 
Many cliffs abutted on the river, and islands of sombre green 
forest studded it in all directions. We made about twenty- 
five miles, then camped in a new but empty Indian house, 
known by the Kussians as " Alikoff's barabba." The tem- 
perature at sunset was — 2° Fahr. 

On the morning of the 15th we rose early, and, after 
travelling seven miles or so, met a large train of sledges, 
accompanied by several Kussians and Indians. They had 
been sent down by the head man, or " bidarshik," of Nulato, 
to transport their own winter supplies, and to assist us. As 
it was arranged that some of our men should make the re- 
turn journey to Norton Sound a few daj^s later, the Russians 
turned round, and went back with us. After about eight 

192 Arrival at Nulato. 

miles' travel we reached Nulato, our destination, and made 
a grand entry with much noise and fun, and the firing of 
innumerable discharges. All hands helped the sledges up 
the incline leading up to the station, and a few minutes 
later we were lunching at the " bidarshik's " table on raw 
salt fish and bread. It need not be said that the " samo- 
var " had been prepared as soon as they sighted us in the 
distance. The poorest Russian never neglects the sacred 
rite of hospitality, and we pledged each other in massive 
cups of strong tea. Later in the day we had something 

Thus ended our trip to ISTulato, a journey made by our 
men later in the winter in much less time when the snow 
was well packed, and when they could sometimes travel 
without snow-shoes. 

We found the quarters appropriated to our use — a low 
building, forming one of the boundaries of the court-yard— 
to be large and reasonably comfortable. The place had 
been cleaned out, a large fire lighted in the " pitchka," or 
oven, straw laid on the floor, and, in short, every thing 
done that was possible with the limited means at command. 
Later in the day we took a delicious steam-bath, and soon 
came to the conclusion that, after all, life in Russian Amer- 
ica was perfectly endurable. 

Fikst Yukon Explorers. 193 



First Explorers of the Yukon. — Nulato. — Our Quarters. — Water-sledge.— 
Fish-traps. — Winter Sketching. — Frozen Provisions. — Coldest Day. — 
Departure of a Sledge-train. — Dinner-party. — Indian Arrivals. — Short- 
est Day. — Merry Christmas. — Bill of Fare. — Aurora. — Temperatures. — 
Supplies. — Principal Winter Trip of our Explorers. 

Employes of the Russian American Fur Company were 
certainly the first explorers of the Yukon. Malakoff, in 
1838, and Derabin, the following year, reached this portion 
of the river ; the latter in the autumn of 1842 commenced 
the establishment of the post at Nulato, which, in conse- 
quence, long bore his name. In the early winter of 1843, 
Zagoskin, of the Russian Imperial Navy, arrived, having 
reached Nulato by the route just described, and he himself 
assisted at the building of the fort.* 

Nulato is the most inland, and also most northern of all 
the Russian Fur Company's posts; on Zagoskin's author- 
ity, it is in lat. 64° 42' ll 7 ' N., and long. 157° 58' 18" W. 
(of Greenwich). It is on the north bank of the Yukon, and 
is situated on a flat stretch of comparatively open land, 
bounded on the south-west by the Nulato River, a tributary 
of the Yukon — a stream one of whose mouths is at least 
seventy yards in width. 

A smaller stream, also falling into the great river, bounds 
this open patch of land on the north-east. Trees of good 
average growth, and sufficiently large for building purposes, 

* Zagoskin's work contains nearly all the information we possess on the 
Lower Yukon. It was translated by Mr. E. K. Laborne, the interpreter of 
our expedition, but was not printed* It exists in a German form. 


194 NULATO. 

are to be found in the woods at a moderate distance from 
the fort, and the soil, a rich vegetable mould, with clay 
underlying, though swampy in spring, might possibly be 
turned to some account. Luxuriant grass and innumerable 
berries grow up and ripen in the brief summer-time. 

The post resembles those before described, and differs 
only in having two watch-towers. It is surrounded by a 
picket, and during our stay the gate was always shut at 
night, and Indians excluded when present in large num- 
bers. Before our arrival a "watch" had been kept regu- 
larly at night, for reasons that will afterward appear. The 
log building occupied by us formed a part of one side of 
the fort square. The windows of our room were of seal- 
gut, and, as the days were now about two hours in length, 
our light inside was none of the best. We slept wrapped 
up in fur-lined blankets and skins, on a platform raised 
about two feet above the floor, which latter we had calked 
with moss and covered with straw and skins. Even then, 
although our room was generally warm enough, the floor 
was sometimes intensely cold. I once hung up some damp 
cloth to dry; near the rafters it steamed, within a foot of the 
ground it froze firmly, with long icicles hanging therefrom. 
The air near the floor has shown a temperature of +4° 
when the upper part of the room was +60° or +65° Fahr. 

Our supply of water was obtained from a hole kept con- 
stantly open — or as open as nature would allow it to be — 
through the ice of the Yukon, at a distance of a quarter of 
a mile from the post. The " water-sledge" was one of the 
institutions of the place, and a large barrel was taken down 
and filled with water — and a good deal of broken ice — and 
brought back for the supply of the station. It was gener- 
ally dragged by men, and sometimes by Indian women, as 
it would have taken more dogs than the place possessed to 
move it. It may very naturally be asked, Does not a 

Yukon Fish-Tbaps. 


river like the Yukon freeze to the bottom ? and the answer 
is, most emphatically, "No; excepting only in extremely 
shallow places." We saw ice nine feet thick and upward, 
but it was not produced by the natural process of gradual 
freezing and thickening, but had been forced up on other ice 
before the river was completely and firmly frozen. I think 
an average of five feet of ice will form where there is suffi- 
cient depth of water. Its universal covering of snow has, 
doubtless, the effect of preventing the formation of extreme- 
ly thick ice ; the current of the river has the same effect. 

I have before mentioned the Indian mode of fishing 
through holes in the ice, but had not been prepared to see 
it practiced on the large scale common on the Yukon. 


Early in the winter large piles or stakes had been driven 
down through the ice to the bottom of the river ; to these 
were affixed traps, consisting simply of a wicker-work fun- 
nel leading into a long basket, not unlike the eel-pots to be 
seen on the Thames, but on a larger scale. Oblong holes 
above them were kept open through the ice by frequent 

196 Wintee Sketching. 

breaking, and sometimes a great number of " white-fish " 
and a large black-fish (known by the Kussians as Nalima) 
were taken, and we fell in for a share. The last-named is 
mainly used for dog-feed, but its very rich and oily liver 
was much eaten by the Kussians, and was not despised by us. 

In November and December I succeeded in making 
sketches of the fort and neighborhood at times when the 
temperature was as low as thirty degrees below zero. It 
was done, it need not be said, with difficulty, and often by 
installments. Between every five strokes of the pencil I ran 
about to exercise myself, or went into our quarters for 
warmth. Several times I skinned my fingers, once froze 
my left ear, which swelled up nearly to the top of my head, 
and I was always afraid that my prominent nasal organ 
would get bitten. The use of water-colors was of course 
impracticable — except when I could keep a pot of warm 
water on a small fire by my side — a thing done by me on 
two or three occasions when engaged at a distance from the 
post. Even inside the house the spaces near the windows 
— as well as the floor — were often below freezing-point. 
Once, forgetful of the fact (and it is a fact of which you do 
become forgetful), I mixed some colors up with water that 
had just stood near the oven, and wetting a small brush, 
commenced to apply it to my drawing-block. Before it 
reached the paper it was covered with a skin- of ice, and 
simply scratched the surface, and I had to give up for the 
time being. One of our number going into a store-house 
to do some carpenter's work, put a large iron nail between 
his lips, to hold it for a moment, and, before he thought 
any thing more about it, found them glued together, and 
had to go and thaw himself out by the fire ! 

The effect of intense cold on our stores in the magazine 
was a very interesting study ; our dried-apples were a mass 
of rock, and had to be smashed up with an axe, our molasses 

Frozen Provisions — Coldest Day. 197 

formed a thick black paste, and no knife we had would cut 
a slice of ham from the bone till it was well thawed in our 
warmer room. Our preserved meats would, with a contin- 
uation of those times, have been preserved forever, and would 
have made, as Kane says, excellent " canister shot." After 
purchasing grouse or hares from the Indians, they would 
remain uneaten, for a month or longer period, in as good 
condition as ever, and there was no fear of their getting too 
" high " in that climate. 

Our coldest day for the whole season occurred in De- 
cember. On the 26th of November the thermometer fell 
suddenly from the comparatively moderate temperature 
of +2° to —18°, and continued lowering* steadily, day by 
day, till it reached (on the 5th December) +58° Fahr., or 
ninety degrees below freezing : But the weather was lovely ; 
no wind blew or snow fell during the whole time, and we 
did not feel the cold as much as at many other times. 
Meantime the barometer rose rapidly, and stood at slightly 
above thirty inches on our coldest day. 

On the 7th of the same month the barometer fell consid- 
erably, the thermometer rose to —24°, and later, —16°, 
when snow fell thickly. The spirit-thermometer used by 
myself (although by a San Francisco maker) agreed perfect- 
ly with a standard mercurial thermometer supplied by the 
Smithsonian Institute as far down as —40° (below which, 
as the reader doubtless knows, a mercurial instrument is of 
no further value) : other thermometers showed a much low- 
er temperature ; one, in the hands of an explorer then trav- 
elling up to Nulato, showed on the 5th a temperature of 
— 68°, but this was not a reliable instrument. 

A few extracts from my journal will give — in perhaps 
the briefest form — an insight into some other of our expe- 
riences at this time : 

Nov. ISth (temperature at sunrise —16° F.). — Labargo. 

198 Sledge-Train — Dinner-Party. 

with Indians, started down to bring up another load from 
Unalachleet, and the Kussians accompanied him. No less 
than ten sledges were employed, and the court-yard pre- 
sented a lively scene, the men chattering with, or bidding 
adieu to their friends, shouting, and dragging their dogs to 
the "narta" (sledge); the dogs impatient, and ever and 
again trying to make a break for the frozen river. Here 
and there one was found who didn't want to go .at all, and 
was seized by the scruff of the neck, and half carried, whin- 
ing piteously the while, to his harness, which he then tried 
to chew to pieces. At last all was ready, and the fort gate 
opened ; they ran down the incline made in the bank, and 
were soon lost tonight in the distance, their light loads en- 
abling their drivers often to ride, and make quick time. 
They would not return quite so pleasantly. 

19th (temp. —32°). — Small supplies begin to arrive. 
" Larrione," a Co-yukon, and his brat, who carried a gun 
twice his own length, brought us sweet fat melted into birch- 
bark boxes and some Arctic grouse (ptarmigan), and we, of 
course, returned the compliment, and both paid them and 
gave them some tea and bread. 

This day we gave a dinner-party to " Ivan," the bidarshik, 
and his clerk " Iagor." Ivan, a half-breed, had been promo- 
ted to his present position from the fact that he was a good 
trader ; in other respects, he was an ignorant man, able nei- 
ther to read nor write. We found him a pretty good fellow. 
Our banquet of baked ptarmigan and fried ham, pancakes 
"(known, reader, by the poetical name of" flap-jacks ") molas- 
ses (known by us as " long- tailed sugar "), and coffee, pleased 
ourKussian friends well, but our tea was not to their standard. 
They universally use a very superior kind. In Petropaulov- 
ski a merchant told me that he had once imported a quantity 
of second-rate tea, and had to re-export it, for the poorest 
Kamchatdale would neither buy it nor take it as a gift. 

Merry Christmas. 199 

17 th December. — The first arrival of Indians from a dis- 
tance ; among them came an old chief from Nuclukayette, 
240 miles up the river. He brought with him eight marten- 
robes of twenty-four skins each, and was consequently a big 
man with the Russians. We made him some presents — a 
coat, a can of powder, and some balls, and a few trinkets — 
and he harangued his companions in a peculiarly high- 
pitched voice, as is the mode of the Upper Yukon Indians. 
Had we not known that this speech was in our favor, we 
should have supposed that he was making a war oration in 
order to incite them to murder and revenge. He was not a 
bad-featured old man, and our object in making friends with 
him was for the very good reason that we should afterward — 
in the spring — pass his village, and probably be glad to get 
supplies from him. I tickled his fancy by slipping a plug 
of tobacco into his hand when he had it extended in a the- 
atrical manner in the middle of his speech, like Brutus paus- 
ing " for a reply." The reply was in this case satisfactory. 

21st — Our shortest day, the sun rose at 1040 A.M., and 
•set soon after 12*30 P.M. The interval is given correctly, but 
we had no " Greenwich time " to go by, and, therefore, it is 
only the duration of sunlight that is to be depended upon. 

25th. — Merry Christmas ! not the first by a good many 
that I had spent away from home and kindred. We all 
tried to be jolly, and were moderately successful, yet there 
was a slight " back current" of regret, and a tinge of mel- 
ancholy in our proceedings. We decorated our room with 
flags and Indian trading-goods, and spruce-fir brush, in place 
of holly ; got out the newest and brightest of our tin plates 
and pewter spoons, raised a big fire of logs — in the oven ! 
and Dall set to work vigorously in the manufacture of gin- 
gerbread and pies, but it could not quite put out of mind 
the dear ones at home, and what we well knew they were 
about. We again had our Russian friend Iagor with us, 

200 Bill of Fare. 

but the "bidarshik" was away on a trip. Our little com- 
pany was composed of Ketchum, a jolly New Brunswicker ; 
Labarge, a French Canadian, who had lived in the States most 
of his days, and was a gay, free-hearted fellow, the favorite 
of all ; Dall, a Bostonian, an enthusiastic collector and stu- 
dent of natural history, always ready to assist to the best of 
his power, and myself. Our Indian servant, Kuriler, might 
have passed for a Eussian, as he had been brought up in 
the fort, and spoke the patois of the emploj^es better than 
his own tongue. He was over six feet high, very steady 
and good-tempered, a pretty fair cook, and a good shot, and 
had only one failing. He could never resist shooting at 
any thing where there was the most remote chance of hit- 
ting it, even though it were a crow or a gull. As long as 
his powder held out — and we were obliged to put him on 
allowance — he would blaze away at the slightest provoca- 
tion, and, like the Indians of the whole course of the river, 
was very fond of saluting any arrivals at the fort with blank 
discharges from his flint-lock gun. 

But I am forgetting Christmas. About five o'clock in 
the afternoon, the table neatly covered with cotton drill, and 
set out with the "plate" provided by the company in the 
shape of iron mess-kettles, tin platters, and cups, was ready, 
and we sat down to a repast — to use a Californianism — of 
a " high-toned and elegant nature." 


Soupe a la Yukon. 

Arctic Grouse — roast. 

Alaska Reindeer Meat 

Ndlato Cranberry Sauce. 

California (preserved) Peas and Tomatoes. 

Pies. Dried-Apple Pudding. 

Gingerbread a la Dall. Iced Cheese. 

Coffee. Tea. Iced Water. 

Aurora — Temperatures. 201 

Winding up with a limited supply of rum punch, and pipes 
ad libitum ! 

Not a bad dinner of itself; the iced cheese was a 
novelty I can recommend, only the traditional pudding was 

We passed the evening singing and reciting. Dall read 
an original poem, and I brought out a MS. story (still there !) 
entitled the " Missing Mummy !"* 

27th. — Just as we were turning in for the night a fine 
auroral display in the N.W. was announced, and we all 
rushed out to witness it from the roof of the tallest build- 
ing in the fort. It was not the conventional arch, but a 
graceful, undulating, ever-changing " snake " of electric 
light ; evanescent colors, pale as those of a lunar rainbow, 
ever and again flitting through it, and long streamers and 
scintillations moving upward to the bright stars, which dis- 
tinctly shone through its hazy, ethereal form. The night 
was beautifully calm and clear, cold, but not intensely so, the 
thermometer at +16°. A second one was seen by us on 
the 13th January (1867), which had the arched form, but 
not of that exact nature which has been so often represent- 
ed ; and later we witnessed other displays, though not so 
frequently as we had expected. 

The new year of 1867 began cold, and, with some varia- 
tions in the interval, reached as low as —49° on the 15th. 
January was our coldest month, and included three days in 
which the thermometer showed a temperature below the 
freezing-point of mercury ; but although the mean tempera- 
ture of the month was lower, the exceptional days in Decem- 
ber had been even more intensely cold. In December there 
were six days in which the thermometer fell below the 

* Our men at- Unalachleet organized some private theatricals, and an 
original piece, called "Roderick Doo, and how He was Done," was played 
with, great success. 

202 Supplies. 

freezing-point of mercury ; eleven such days occurred dur- 
ing the winter. 

Oar supplies from the resources of the country, though 
very variable, were not at times inconsiderable ; occasional- 
ly we were down to flour " strait," but more commonly got 
enough of either Arctic grouse, hares, or fish. Yery little 
deer-meat came in for several months. We carefully pre- 
served the white soft skins of the hares to cover our blankets, 
and all of us there luxuriated in such by night. It takes 
forty to cover an ordinary blanket. Our indefatigable 
quartermaster, Mr. Dyer, looking ahead for the future, got 
together at the end of winter about 800 of these skins. It 
must not, however, be supposed that our small party had 
eaten that number of hares ! The larger part of them were 
purchased from the Indians, who were ready enough to sell 
us the skins, but preferred to eat the meat themselves. 

Many an excursion on the frozen river was made by us, 
many a visit to the fish-traps, or to the snares set in the 
woods by the Indian women of the fort. The river at 
Nulato is by measurement, from bank to bank, a mile and a 
quarter, and to an island opposite the station 1000 yards ; 
and often did we cross it in pursuit of health, exercise, 
natural history specimens, our daily food, or for sketching 
purposes. A large log-building was put up at a mile from 
the post, and was intended to serve as a telegraph station ; 
we all, more or less, took part in the erection of this build- 
ing. Some future traveller may reap the benefit. 

The principal event of the winter was, undoubtedly, the 
trip made by Ketchum and Labarge from JSTulato to Fort 
Yukon. On the 2d March Labarge arrived from Unalach- 
leet, bringing with him twenty-two dogs, and " ukalee," or 
dried salmon — enough for twenty-five or thirty days' use. 
As it was necessary to keep all of this for the trip, it was 
no easy matter to feed so many hungry dogs ; nevertheless, 

Principal Winter Trip. 203 

we were determined they should start in good condition. 
We therefore got together every eatable thing that was 
available, and made a soup for them, as the Kussians also do 
at times, of oil, fish, scraps of meat T bran, and rice. We 
even sacrificed our last beans for their benefit, and found — 
contrary to Dr. Kane's experience — that they would eat 
them when properly softened. This concoction was stewed 
slowly on a moderate fire, and when ready, was allowed to 
cool partially; it was then turned into a long wooden trough, 
round which the dogs scrambled and fought, until the last 
morsels and drops were licked up. It evidently suited 
them ; they fattened on it. 

Two Ingelete Indians, who had promised to accompany 
Ketchum, backed out at the last moment, doubtless afraid 
of travelling so far from their own villages ; and their place 
was filled by Co-yukons, with the addition of two boys, 
one of whom proved the best of the batch. At last, on the 
11th, all their preparations were made, and they started 
with four sledges ; one of these being exclusively filled with 
dried fish, and another with the lighter necessaries. We 
all feared that the trip had been attempted too late ; snow 
had but recently fallen, and the surface of the river was in 
as soft a condition as it had been in the early winter. We 
gave them a good start, helping the sledges through the soft 
snow, while Dyer almost brought down one of the old 
watch-towers by firing off a rusty, unused piece of artillery 
which he found lying there. The result of the trip I must 
leave to its proper place in the narrative. 

In place of interspersing the numerous references to 
Indians among other matters, as in my journal, I have 
massed them together in the succeeding chapter. As In- 
dians come to Kulato, even from a distance of several hun- 
dred miles, we had much opportunity of intercourse with 

204 Co-Yukon Tribe. 



Co-yukon Tribe. — Fashions. — The Nulato Massacre. — Incidents of the 
Attack. — Indian Murders. — Mourning Observances. — " Wake." — Four- 
post Coffins. — Superstitions. — " Corralling " deer. — News travels fast. — 
Furs and Trading. — Indian Women. — Indian " Goggles." — Children's 

The Co-yukon is the largest tribe on the Yukon Eiver, 
and extends virtually from the confluence of the Co-yukuk 
Eiver to Nuclukayette, at the junction of the Tanana with 
the Yukon ; for, although some of the intervening tribes 
have local names, yet they speak one dialect, and may fair- 
ly be considered as one people. They also inhabit the 
banks of the Co-yukuk and other interior rivers. 

In general appearance they somewhat resemble the In- 
geletes before mentioned, but have a wilder and more 
ferocious cast of feature. The true Co-yukon dress is a 
doubled-tailed coat, one tail before, and one behind. If 
the reader will imagine a man dressed in two swallow-tail 
coats, one of them worn as usual, the other covering his 
stomach and buttoned behind, he will get some idea of this 
garment ! Owing to intertribal commerce, Malemute cloth- 
ing is much seen on the Yukon ; but the style just men- 
tioned is regarded as a Co-yukon fashion, and, with various 
modifications, is adopted by the other tribes on the Upper 
Yukon for at least a thousand miles of its course. The 
women's dress is more squarely cut ; and they adopt very 
much a long ornament of Hy-a-qua shells (Dentalium), ob- 
tained from both the trading companies on the river. This 

Nulato Massacre. 205 

is worn on the nose, and runs through a hole made in the 
cartilage between the nostrils. Strange to saj, higher up 
the river, as will be mentioned hereafter, it is the men ex- 
clusively who adopt this ornament. The Co-yukon winter 
dwellings are under-ground, the same as those already de- 

These people are much feared by surrounding tribes, and 
gave the Kussians much trouble in the early history of 
Nulato. Behind the post there is a small burial-ground, 
where lies one brave Englishman, a lieutenant of our navy, 
and a member of Captain (now Admiral) Collinson's ex- 
pedition, who, in the search for Sir John Franklin, met 
his death at the hands of these Indians. The narrative 
of this occurrence, as learned from the Russians, is as fol- 
lows : 

Lieutenant Barnard was landed at St. Michael's on. Oc- 
tober 12, 1850, and remained there till the commander of 
the post at Nulato came down in the early winter. He then 
accompanied this Russian up to the Yukon, travelling there 
by the route used by ourselves. Mr. Adams, an assistant 
surgeon, R.K, and one seaman, were left at St. Michael's. 
On arriving at Nulato, Lieutenant Barnard dispatched one 
of the employes of the fur company and an Indian to 
Co-yukuk to make some inquiries. The Russian, on arrival 
there, fell asleep on his sledge, and, in the absence of his 
Indian servant, was killed by the Co-yukons. The Indian, 
who had but gone a little way to obtain water, on his re- 
turn found his master dead, and immediately ran away 
affrighted. The others beckoned him back, saying they 
had no intention of injuring Mm. He, believing them, re- 
turned, and, as he approached, was shot by arrows, and kill- 
ed also. 

The murderers, numbering, it is said, more than a hun- 
dred men, then started down for Nulato. About forty 

206 Nulato Massacre. 

Nulato Indians were congregated in some under-ground 
houses near the mouth of the Nulat'o River, and not more 
than a mile from the post. The Co-yukons surrounded 
these dwellings, heaped wood, broken canoes, paddles, and 
snow-shoes over the entrance and smoke-holes, and then set 
them on fire. All of the unfortunate victims below were 
suffocated, or shot in attempting to escape. Only five or 
six solitary Nulatos are now in existence. 

Early the next morning the Co-yukons swarmed into 
the court-yard of the fort, which then had no picket-fence 
surrounding it. A fatal security reigned among the Rus- 
sians, and they had not even secured the doors ; it is said 
that an Indian woman in the fort knew of the occurrence 
of the night before, but was afraid to impart her knowledge 
to the others. Finding the commander outside, they stab- 
bed him in the back repeatedly. He lived for a few min- 
utes, only just -managing to stagger into his own doorway. 
The Indians then rushed into the room where Barnard and 
another man, an interpreter, were still lying on their beds. 
They jumped up and grasped their guns and pistols. The 
Englishman fired several shots, but without much effect, and 
a powerful struggle ensued. His double gun was afterward 
found broken in the stock. At last numbers overpowered 
him, and they threw him on the bed, stabbing him re- 
peatedly. The interpreter was also severely wounded. 

As they came out from this house a Russian shot at them 
from the building opposite through a hole in one of the gut 
windows. Instantly an Indian raised his bow and arrow 
in position, when the Russian again fired and shot him so 
dead that he fell with the bow and arrow stiff in his grasp. 
The others immediately dispersed. 

An Indian "lofka" was at once dispatched to St. Mi- 
chael's with a letter for Mr. Adams, the surgeon there. This 
native put the paper in his skin boot, and was on the road 

Mysteey of the Butchery. 207 

confronted by the Co-yukons, who examined his blankets 
and clothes; they, however, overlooked his boots, and did 
not therefore discover his ruse. Mr. Adams at once start- 
ed up, but arrived too late to be of any assistance. The 
cross and inscribed board on the grave, put up by this 
gentleman, were last summer (1867) in good preserva- 

The commander of Nulato is said to have ill-used these 
Indians, but their reason for this wholesale butchery is in- 
volved in mystery. Admiral Collinson very kindly put 
his notes of this transaction at my disposal, and I found no 
essential difference in the two versions of this sad story, 
excepting only as to whether the Indian murders preceded 
or followed those of the white men. 

We heard of recent brutal murders among themselves; 
and although we got along well enough with them, they 
are, undoubtedly, a wilder and more savage race than those 
of the coast. In the autumn of 1865 an Indian of this 
tribe went hunting in the mountains with two men, broth- 
ers, inhabitants of the same village as himself. In the 
woods he got them apart on some pretense, and succeeded 
in killing both. He returned to the village, seized their 
possessions in fish and furs, and bullied the widow of one 
of them into living with him. Some of the murdered men's 
relatives came from a distance to punish this monster, but 
he learned of their approach in time, and escaped to the 
forest, taking the woman with him ; up to the time of our 
leaving he had not been caught, but will eventually meet 
his reward, as the Indians round were much exasperated at 
his villainy. 

These tribes mourn for the dead one year, and the wom- 
en during that time often gather together, talking and cry- 
ing over the deceased. At the expiration of that term they 
have a feast or " wake," and the mourning is over. One 


Mourning Observances. 

such entertainment took place at Nulato during our stay, 
and by special request was allowed to be held in the gener- 
al barrack of the fort. It was to commemorate the death 
of a Co-yukon child, and was a queer mixture of jollity 
and grief. 

The poor old mother and some of her friends wept bit- 
terly, while the guests were gayly dancing round apamted 
pole, on which strings of beads and some magnificent wolf- 
skins were hung. They kept up singing, dancing, and 
feasting to a fashionable hour of the morning ; and one lit- 
tle savage, who had been shouting at the top of his lungs 


for hours, got up the next day without any voice at all — a 
case of righteous retribution. The decorations of the pole 
were divided among those who took part in the " wake." 
So vigorously did they dance, that the old oven, used in 
warming the building, shook to its foundations, and part of 
it fell in. 

"Corralling" Deer. 211 

They do not inter the dead, but put them in oblong box- 
es, raised on posts, sometimes decorated with strips of skin 
hanging over them, sometimes with the possessions of the 
deceased (as a " baidarre," or other canoe, with paddles, 
etc.) on the top of the box. Small possessions are often 
put inside with the corpse. The tomb can not be better 
described than as a four-post coffin. These are common 
to the coast tribes also. 

They have certain superstitions with regard to the bones 
of animals, which they will neither throw on the fire nor to 
the dogs, but save them in their houses or caches. When 
they saw us. careless in such matters, they said it would pre- 
vent them from catching or shooting successfully. Also, 
they will not throw away their hair or nails, just cut short, 
but save them, sometimes hanging them in packages to 
the trees. 

The mode of fishing through the ice practiced by the 
Russians is much in vogue with them, and they also have 
an ingenious mode of catching reindeer in the mountain 
valleys. A kind of corral, or enclosure, elliptical in form, 
and open at one end, is made on a deer-trail, generally 
near the outlet of a wood. The farther end of the enclosed 
space is barricaded ; the sides are built of stakes, with slip- 
nooses or loops between them. Herds of deer are driven 
in from the woods, and, trying to break from the trap, gen- 
erally run their heads into the nooses, tighten them, and so 
get caught, or are shot, while still bewildered and running 
from side to side. Near the opening it is common to erect 
piles of snow, with " port-holes," through which natives 
hidden shoot at the passing deer. 

It is surprising in this thinly-inhabited country, how 
fast news of any kind will travel from tribe to tribe. 
Should a vessel call at St. Michael's, in a week or two it 
will be known on three parts of the Yukon. During win-. 

212 News Travels Fast. 

ter false rumors reached our men at the coast station that 
we had been attacked by Indians, and Captain Ennis imme- 
diately sent up, offering assistance. On the other hand, re- 
ports, equally false, reached us with regard to the coast 
parties, all being probably caused by some petty disagree- 
ment, exaggerated from mouth to mouth. 

We once said, jokingly, that if supplies did not come in 
faster, we should have to eat up the plump babies of the 
settlement. Before many days elapsed, it was spread all 
over the country that' we were cannibals, and devoured 
children wholesale ! and many a serious inquiry was made 
about it. Generally speaking, we found it answered our 
purpose to joke, sing, and affect gayety with them, but we 
had to be very careful what statements we advanced. We 
told them confidently, however, of the expected advent of 
a big steamer for the Yukon, as, indeed, we ourselves be- 
lieved at the time ; but, unless some private individuals do 
what our company proposed to do, I am afraid the Indians 
will think us terrible liars. Many of them went down to 
see our little steamer, then at the mouth of the Unalachleet 
River, and it excited a good deal of interest, as they spread 
the news throughout the country. Few individuals, even 
of the Co-yukons, have ever tasted " fire-water." How 
long that happy state of things will last remains to be seen. 
Their smoking habits are the same as those of the coast 
peoples, modified, of course, by the introduction of pipes 
of a larger growth, introduced by the trading companies 
and ourselves. 

The women are often passably pretty, and, when living 
in the forts, often improve in habits. They are there 
sometimes allowed a " steam-bath." They are very fond 
of playing together, behaving at such times like children, 
snow-balling each other, rolling each other in the snow, or 
sliding down banks on sledges or snow-shoes. I think 

Furs and Trading. 213 

they treat their children well, and the young mothers are 
certainly very fond of their first-born. 

One day in summer Dall gallantly presented a wild rose 
to a young Indian damsel. She accepted it graciously, but 
did not appear to know what to do with it. He put it up 
to her nose, when she turned away with a " puh !" as con- 
temptuous as Hamlet's ! It will not, perhaps, do to put 
this down as a national trait. Of the furs obtained by 
them, a portion only reached the Kussian forts. Some 
were accumulated till spring, when at Nuclukayette they 
could trade them to their neighbors, or to the Hudson's 
Bay Company. Another part of the trade reaches the 
coast, and eventually the Tchuktchi natives, as before men- 

Still, in one season at Eulato, the Eussians have taken 
5000 marten, and large quantities of beaver, with an occa- 
sional black or silver-gray fox. They did not trade guns 
or ammunition on the Yukon, and the Indians were very 
dissatisfied with both their tariff and goods. Our powder 
and balls, with some additional supplies contributed by 
Dall, were invaluable. 

With regard to beads, it was required that they should 
not be fragile — a strong, large porcelain bead was the cor- 
rect thing ; combs were much desired, and looking-glasses 
were not bad things for trade ; cotton of various kinds was 
much in demand, while trinkets went for very little. They 
commonly tested beads by rapping them sharply on wood, 
on the table, etc. If they were not broken, all was well. 
Flints and steels, knives and scissors, were all in demand, 
and soaps and matches would both have been, could we 
have spared any. Our needs were chiefly confined to the 
purchase of supplies and skin clothing ; special services 
were paid for by larger rewards, guns, blankets, or clothing. 

The Co-yukon dialect is, with slight variations, spoken 


Indian Goggles, 

by the tribes of the Middle and Lower Yukon for several 
hundred miles of its course. The Ingelete dialect, as be- 
fore mentioned, is closely allied to it. It appears to be 
totally distinct from those'of the coast peoples. In the brief 
vocabularies of Co-yukon and Malemute words to be found 
in the Appendix (Y.), there is hardly a word which seems 
to have a common origin. That the coast natives of 
Northern Alaska are but Americanized Tchuktchis from 
Asia, I myself have no doubt ; but where shall we look 
for the stock from which the Yukon Indians came ? They 
appear to be more nearly allied to the true North Ameri- 
can Indian. These natives very constantly reminded me 
ot Catlin and the older writers, and they almost appeared 
like old friends. 


In spring, the Co-yukons, in common with all the sur- 
rounding tribes, adopt wood "goggles" when hunting or 

Precocious Youth. 215 

travelling. These are used to prevent the glare of the sun- 
light on the snow from producing blindness. These "specs" 
are made of many shapes, all having a narrow slit, through 
which the wearer can see with sufficient distinctness. We 
wore colored glasses for the same purpose. 

For the amusement of children, the women manufacture 
dolls, often very fair copies of themselves or the men in 
dress and general appearance. But the children soon de- 
velop into men and women ; and, at ten years old, a boy 
may possess and know how to make good use of a gun, 
while a girl at fifteen may have a husband, or, at all 
events, be setting snares for one ! 

216 Spring. 



Spring. — Thaw. — Break-up of the Yukon. — Preparations for Journey.— 
Our Canoes. — Start. — Dangerous Condition of River. — Its Size. — 
Current. — Perilous Navigation. — Submerged Islands. — Co-yukuk. — 
Birch-bark Fleet. — Sachertelontin. — Lagoon. — Newicargut. — Purchase 
of Supplies." — Tooth-brush Experiences. — Medicine-making. — Indian 
Dissipation. — Child's birch-bark Chair. 

Although snow covers the ground, and the rivers are 
frozen for nearly eight months of the year in Northern 
Russian America, winter can hardly be said to exist for 
that time. As early as April 5 a thaw occurred, and 
though it again got cooler, it proved to us that spring was 
fast approaching. On the 9th flies made their appearance, 
the court-yard of the post became a swamp, and, on the 
10th, I found the willows and smaller trees budding. The 
Russians at last became convinced that winter was over, 
and commenced clearing the fast-melting snow from the 
roofs and yard. The houses leaked much, and trenches 
had to be dug in the enclosure and round the fort. It was 
amusing to watch the lazy employes of the fur company. 
Their mode of proceeding Was somewhat as follows : One 
Russian shovelled a few pounds of snow on to a hide. 
Two others then, with great appearance of fatigue, dragged 
it slowly to the edge of the bank and dropped it over. 
This unparalleled exertion rendered it necessary for the 
trio to sit down and smoke. After an interval of repose, 
and the "bidarshik" making his appearance, with great 
zeal and alacrity they started to work again. The "bidar- 

Break-Up of the Yukon. 217 

shik," satisfied that they were indefatigable servants of the 
company, went in himself to take a nap, or to play a game 
of cards with his .clerk. They repeated the process, and 
cleared up a few inches more; it was then time to "chi 
peat " (drink tea), and they adjourned for the purpose. 
Their mode of working was on economical principles, each 
doing as little as he could ; the company paid them in ex- 
act proportion. 

From the 11th to the 25th of April the weather got 
cooler, with slight falls of snow. After the latter date, 
however, the thermometer rarely fell below freezing-point, 
and, by comparison with our winter experiences, it seemed 
quite warm. On the 28th of the same month the first 
goose from the south arrived, and "Kuriler" was in his 
element. He frequently scrambled across the opening and 
fast-thawing ice of the river to the island opposite our 
station, remaining there all night, and never returning 

On the 5th of May the Nulato Eiver made a decided 
break-up ; it had shown, many signs of it before, but its 
ardor had been nipped in the bud. This time it burst in 
good earnest, and on the 12th it opened still more, and ran 
out on the top of the Yukon ice for more than a mile up the 
great river. In many places the rain had bared the ice 
from its usual covering of snow ; it is, without doubt, a 
powerful agent in breaking up these great rivers. The 
general effect was mess and confusion ; the ice dirty, and 
mixed with logs and debris, and the water, in tortuous 
streams, running all 'over its surface. Several persons be- 
longing to the fort, who had been shooting on the island 
opposite, had much difficulty in getting back ; and Ivan, 
the " bidarshik," almost came to grief; getting wedged in 
between loose ice, and up to his neck in water, He was 
rescued by canoes from the fort. Indians have been car- 

218 Appeakance of the Yukon. 

ried away and drowned by an unexpected break-up of the 
river, and the fish-traps are invariable swept away. 

On the 12th musquitoes made their first appearance, 
and on the 13th the swallows arrived, and were flitting 
round the fort, or building under the eaves of the roof. 
The indefatigable Kuriler bagged six geese, and, the fol- 
lowing day, ten more. The weather was now so warm and 
sunny that we felt enervated and oppressed by it. 

19^. — First real break-up of the Yukon, the ice coming 
down in a steady flow at the rate of .five or six knots an 
hour. For several days afterward this continued, and was 
an exciting scene after the monotony of the winter. A 
constant stream of broken ice passed the station, now 
surging into mountains as it met with some obstacle, now 
grinding and crashing on its way, and carrying all before 
it. Whole trees and banks were swept away before its 
victorious march, and the river rose some fourteen feet 
above its winter level. On the 22d, a quantity of " black 
ice," i. e.j ice discolored by some very dark-looking earth, 
went by. By the 24th the river was beginning to clear. 

The varied conditions in which we found the ice would 
make a very interesting study. Some of it was beautifully 
clear, representing perfect ice, while a larger proportion 
seemed to be in a sodden, half water-logged state. One 
variety appeared to be riddled or honey-combed, while a 
very common kind appeared to be in a rotten, yet crystal- 
line condition. When this struck against a second floating 
lump it cracked into a thousand fragments, and there was 
a constant sound as of the smashing 'of glass. As before 
stated, much dirt, and that of many shades, was mingled 
with the ice, and the water was as discolored as that of the 
Thames at London. Much well-packed snow still remain- 
ed on the miniature floating bergs ; and trees, whole or in 
fragments, came down imbedded in them. The Kussians 


often dragged quantities of this drift-wood ashore, and kept 
it for fuel and building purposes. Our man Piekett .was 
set to work in the same way, and succeeded in collecting 
a good quantity. 

' All was now activity, the Eussians preparing for their 
spring trading excursion, Dall and myself for our projected 
trip, and Mr. Dyer for his journey down the river to its 
mouths, where he expected to meet Mr. Everett Smith — a 
gentleman of our service employed in taking soundings 
there. Provisions and goods had to be, selected, weighed 
out, and packed, guns and pistols cleaned, and oars and 
paddles manufactured by the dozen. 

The skins from our " baidarre " and Mr. Dyer's three- 
holed "baidarke" were taken off their frames, repatchedin 
rotten places, soaked in water,, etc., and then again put on, 
well oiled, and fat rubbed into the seams. By the 25th we 
were all ready and anxious to get away. Although it was 
raining hard on the morning of the 26th, at 7 A.M. Mr. 
Dyer, with two Indians, left us to descend the river, and by 
eight o'clock the Eussians and ourselves made our start up. 
The Eussians, with Indian workmen, numbered eight per- 
sons, under the direction of our friend " Ivan," the head 
man and trader of the Nulato Fort. Their skin boat was 
of large size, had a rudder, mast, and large square-sail : it 
carried over two tons of goods and provisions. Our craft 
was a much smaller skin boat, yet carried five persons, a 
tent, blankets, cooking utensils, and guns, two bags of 
biscuit (100 lbs.), 150 lbs. of flour, with smaller packages. 
Our crew comprised Kuriler, as steersman, and two Indians 
— one a representative of the Ingeletes, the other of the 
Co-yuko.ns. Dall and myself paddled usually, while the 
others rowed. We also carried a sail, but no rudder; 
Kuriler steered us with a paddle, and helped us along at 
the same time. The river was still full of ice and drift- 

220 Description of the Yukon. 

wood, and navigation was difficult. The only way of 
ascending the stream was by keeping near, generally very 
near the banks. We had frequently to cross and recross 
the stream to get into quieter water, and at such times ex- 
erted ourselves specially, so that we might not lose much 
by the operation. As it was, we usually drifted down half 
a mile or so. 

How shall I, in few words, describe this immense stream, 
one that our men were wont to compare with the Missis- 
sippi ! At Nulato, which is 600 miles above its mouths, 
as before stated, it is, from bank to bank, one mile and a 
quarter wide, while in other places it opens out into la- 
goons four to five miles in width, studded with innumera- 
ble islands. Our explorers have travelled up it 1800 miles. 
Its tributaries — to be hereafter mentioned — would be large 
rivers in Europe, and I can therefore understand the proud 
boast uttered by a native of its banks, and translated for 
our benefit, u We are not savages, we are Yukon Indians!" 

About a mile above Nulato steep cliffs abut on the 
west side of the river, showing a sand-stone formation, with 
shale intermingled, and with numerous plants and ferns 
growing at their base. About noon we stopped for tea ; 
a fire was soon made on a very shelving bank, not selected 
from choice, but from necessity. A small creek of limpid 
ice-cold water was near it, and we enjoyed a simple lunch, 
and then resumed our trip. 

We had proceeded but a short distance when we came 
to turns of the river, round which logs, and ice, and drift- 
wood were sweeping at a great rate. It was absolutely 
necessary for one man at this time to stand in the bows of 
the canoe, with a pole shod at one end with iron, to push 
away the masses of ice and tangle of drift-wood, lest a col- 
lision should ensue. We saw large trees pass under the 
Eussians' canoe, and positively lift it for a moment out of 

Dangers of the Navigation. 223 

the water, although it weighed at least three tons, and had 
eight men on board. This can be understood by taking 
into consideration the great momentum that a floating mass 
acquires when sweeping at the rate of six or eight miles an 
hour, and itself somewhat sunken by the rapidity of the 
current. Had the same logs struck the canoe broadside, 
or directly in the bows, in all probability a serious disaster 
would have occurred. We could often feel the ice and 
logs rolling and scraping under the keel of our canoe, and 
it was a very uncomfortable sensation. It was not the 
thickness of a plank between us and destruction, but simply 
that of a piece of seal-skin an eighth or a tenth of an inch 
thick. Still a skin boat has its advantages ; the tough 
flexible skin will give for several inches without necessarily 
tearing. It is in such a river infinitely safer, and will stand 
more wear and tear than the cedar canoes of British Co- 
lumbia ; and birch-barks — at least while there is yet a flow 
of ice in the water — are evidently very unsafe craft. On 
the other hand, we found that the seams where the skins 
were sewn together were very liable to rip, especially on 
the flat bottom of the canoe, when passing over logs and 
ice, or stones and " snags," in shallow water. 

At one of the above-mentioned bluffs so difficult was it 
to proceed, that the Russians, after vainly struggling against 
the current, gave in, drifted down a little way, and then 
camped. Our steersman grinned, and asked whether we 
also meant to turn back, or whether we would run all 
risks, and try to cross the great torrent into quieter water 
by the other bank. We immediately saw a brilliant chance 
of distinguishing ourselves, and told him we would pro- 
ceed. The Russians had rather pooh-poohed the notion of 
.Dall and myself — both comparatively young men — ever 
reaching Fort Yukon ; so we were on our mettle, and pad- 
dled 'and rowed with great vigor. We had many a close 

224 Submerged Islands. 

shave with the floating ice and wood, and sometimes had 
to stop and drift down to let some more than usually cum- 
bersome mass pass on its way ; but by Kuriler's excellent 
steering we crossed safely, and then travelled alo'ng the 
bank for some distance ahead of our Muscovite friends. 
Nothing could exceed the glee of our Indians, and they 
could not understand how Dall and myself could show no 
more excitement about it, overjoyed as we evidently were. 
We at length came to a comparatively dry spot on some 
low ground, and made our camp. It was on the east side 
of the river, and the land was level for some distance back. 
It terminated at a distance of thirty miles in the snow- 
capped range of the T'Kitske Mountains. We had in- 
cluded a tow-line in our apparatus, but no tracking was 
possible for a week after this date ; many of the lower 
banks and islands were submerged. We erected our tents, 
and ifideed needed them, as it rained incessantly. 

27th. — Started at 3 a.m., and proceeded with rather less 
difficulty, finding the water comparatively quiet between 
the numerous islands. Many of them were entirely sub- 
merged, and we floated over some of the lesser tree-tops. 
At noon we arrived at the Co-yukuk village and river, 
stopped at the home of our Co-yukon boatman, and bought 
a large pike there — a not uncommon fish on the river. 
Hard by was an Indian four-post grave-box enclosed with 
rails, and a flag waving over it. 

Near this spot the " Co-yukuk Sofka," or mountain, 
terminated on the river in a very grand and steep sand- 
stone bluff of castellated appearance, perpendicular strata 
taking the place of the more usual horizontal formation. 
Round its rugged base the water swept with terrific force, 
and we had again to cross the river, which at this point 
makes a great bend to the eastward. 

We passed several small encampments of Indians, and 

Our Travelling Companions. 225 

were accompanied by a fleet of canoes, their owners all 
bound for the annual trading-meetings at Newicargut and 
ISTuclukayette. Their canoes were of birch-bark, covering 
a well constructed and light frame of willow and birch, and 
varied in length from eight to sixteen feet, according as 
they were intended for one or three persons. The seams 
of these frail barks are sewn with the finer roots of spruce- 
fir, and are calked with spruce-gum. When a leak is dis- 
covered, they go ashore, light a small fire, warm the gum, 
of which they always carry a supply, turn the canoe bot- 
tom upward, and rub the healing balm in a semi-fluid state 
into the seam until it is again water-tight. Single paddles 
are usually adopted ; double ones, like those used by the 
Greenlander in his " kyack," are occasionally seen. It is a 
common thing for them to use no paddles at all in shallow 
water, but simply stakes or poles (like small stilts) in either 
hand ; and they will sometimes stand up when progressing 
in this way. 

Each man had some little dried meat, but trusted main- 
ly to finding something by the way. They surrounded 
our camp with hungry looks ; our plan was to give to those 
only who worked for us. Occasionally we allowed our In- 
dians, when fatigued, to change with some of the owners 
of these birch-barks, and so kept our crew fresh. Steady 
exertion is foreign to them, and they made a great fuss 
over any trifling blisters raised on their hands in the un- 
accustomed exertion of rowing. Still they behaved better 
than I had expected, and little Mikeshker, our Ingelete, 
was a capital fellow, the first to volunteer in any thing that 
was to be done. Some of the Indians travelling up with 
us had cotton-drill tents made by themselves, in imitation 
of the Eussians ; our own men usually rigged up our sail 
into a shelter-tent. 

Ivan, in the evening, gave us some wild-duck eggs he 


226 Sachertelontin — Lagoon. 

had obtained in trading ; tbey were not plentiful at this 
part of the river, We camped on the east side of the river 
after a long search for a spot of dry land. 

28th. — Made an early start 1 A.M., and crossed the river 
three times, once where it was two miles wide. A light 
breeze enabled us to use our sail with fair effect. We found 
at this part of the river some tall, straight poplars, all, how- 
ever, with a curious bend, or " kink," near the top. We 
passed several Indian graves and camps. The Eussians, on 
nearing any Indian locality, announced their arrival by 
firing a large flint-lock gun, something of the calibre of a 
whaling-gun. We camped about 2 p.m. on a steep bank. 
Kain fell in the evening, and it was almost welcomed, as it 
kept off the mUsquitoes. 

On the 30th we waited over a whole day in camp to re- 
grease our "baidarre." The Eussians did the same, and 
our Indian friends also, so that there was a large encamp- 
ment. It rained incessantly. 

31st. — We passed the fishing- village of Sachertelontin. 
From this point I kept a constant running survey (bearings 
and apparent distances). Our only authority — the map of 
Zagoskin — terminates about this point. (With many wind- 
ings, the general direction to Fort Yukon is ISLE, magnetic ; 
and so little does it vary from this that my notes contain 
little else but points ranging from N. to E.) 

1st June.— We arrived at a large opening or lagoon on 
the river about eight miles long and five wide. It ran 
in an easterly direction, and had several large islands in 
it. At its termination the river again narrowed. Sand- 
stone bluffs and some crags of conglomerate bordered the 
lagoon. Within three days we obtained one heron, two 
or three ducks and geese, and a few eggs; also some bea- 
ver-meat. The heron was decidedly tough eating ; the bea- 
ver-meat was very musk-like in flavor, the tail alone ex- 

The Melozecakgut River. 229 

cepted, which is the trapper's greatest luxury, and was re- 
ally delicious. 

The natives here, when very short of supplies, eat the 
flesh of marten, owls, hawks, etc., but it is from necessity 
rather than choice. They "ken eat crow, tho' they don't 
hanker arter it." In point of fact, I noticed these luxuries 
generally fell to the lot of the old people, who do not have 
a very pleasant time of it if they happen to get feeble or 
decrepit. They are not ill-used, but simply neglected. 

At this part of the river's banks we found the spruce-fir 
unusually large, and the river itself was full of great nat- 
ural rafts of trees and drift-wood, which came whirling 
down with great rapidity in the ever-varying current. 
Now they would seem to be gliding along steadily, when, 
all at once, they got into an eddy and spun round, so that 
you could not answer for their course. They frequently 
scraped and jarred against our canoe, and steering had to 
be an ever-watchful operation. 

2d. — Large mountains to the N.KE. The Suquonyilla 
range. We reached the mouth of a large stream, the Melo- 
zecargut River, which enters from the JST.W. (the termina- 
tion cargut simply means "small river" in the Co-yukon 
dialect ; be it observed that the Melozecargut is only small 
by comparison with the Yukon). We passed a large log of 
maple lying on the beach ; our men found none growing 
below Fort Selkirk, so that it must have travelled from 
some point very near the head-waters of the Yukon. The 
afternoon was so intensely warm that we slept for several 
hours on the bank, resuming our trip in the evening, and 
travelling till 2 A.M. on the 3d. On this latter day we 
started early, and camped with the "Russians in the early 
afternoon opposite Kewicargut, one of the most important 
halting-places on the river. The chief came over to us in 
the night and invited us at once to the village, and we 



broke camp and returned with him. On the S.E. side of 
the Yukon we found a comparatively narrow opening, 
leading into a kind of bay into which the Newicargut Eiver 
empties itself. The Eussians and ourselves saluted the 
village with a miscellaneous discharge from revolvers, car- 
bines, and shot-guns, as is 
the delight of all the Indians 
of the country, and they re- 
turned the compliment with 
great zest. Our man, Kuri- 
ler, blazed away, until we 
had to threaten to take away 
his powder-flask. 

Here we met about 150 
Indians of a highly decora- 
ted and painted kind, wear- 
ing almost universally the" 
double-tailed coat, much or- 
namented with bead trim- 
mings, and elaborately- work- 
ed fire-bags, knife-sheaths, 
and belts. They were al- 
most all of them living in 
either cotton-drill tents made 
by themselves, or in open 
booths, constructed of poles 
set up and tied together roof 
fashion, a few green boughs, 
pieces of birch-bark and 
skins covering them. Little 
fires were burning every- 
where, to keep off the musquitoes. The weather was in- 
tensely warm, the thermometer standing at 72° in the 


Medicine-Making. 231 

While the Eussians were busily trading for beaver, mar- 
ten, and other furs, Dall purchased about 250 lbs. of dried 
deer and moose meat and fat, and also a kind of native 
pemmican. He very kindly undertook this part .of the 
performance, my line of business was exclusively managing 
the crew and the travelling arrangements. An extra canoe 
was bought, and two Indians engaged to navigate it ; it 
was a sort of tender to our craft. We were not well pro- 
vided with trading-goods, and both. Dall and myself had, 
in common with many of our men elsewhere, to find a good 
deal for the necessary payments, presents to chiefs, etc. 
Spare shirts, socks, pocket or sheath knives, and other pos- 
sessions gradually melted from our gaze. At this place the 
Newicargut chief asked me for my towel and soap ; and as 
he had been useful in whipping up supplies for us, I let 
him have them, knowing that Dall was pretty well provided 
in this matter. But here it did not rest, he saw me with a 
tooth-brush, and wanted that also. I need not say he did 
not get it ; but the future traveller should either cut down 
his own kit to the lowest standard, or take all the little 
luxuries of life by the dozen. Much the same sort of thing 
once befell me in an airy board-and-shingle " hotel " in Car- 
iboo, where I found a miner (evidently from Pike County, 
Missouri) who was engaged in cleaning up quartz speci- 
mens with my tooth-brush, of the use of which he was to- 
tally ignorant. Seeing a just perceptible shade of annoy- 
ance flitting over my face, he asked me whether I wanted 
it ? I assured him I had done with it forever. 

In the evening of the 4th, "Larrione," a Co-yukon, 
made medicine over a sick man. A group of Indians en- 
circled the invalid ; in the midst of them burnt a dim fire. 
A monotonous chorus in an under-tone was kept up, while 
Larrione went through an elaborate performance, some de- 
tails of which would be unfit for the reader's perusal. Now 

232 Indian Dissipation. 

he appeared to draw the evil spirit from the sick man, and, 
wrestling with it, threw it on the fire, and then repelled, 
ran wildly from it with mock terror and affright. Now it 
had possession of him, and he gesticulated, groaned, and 
frothed at the mouth — the whole accompanied by a recita- 
tive, artistically managed in connection with the chorus. 
The affair was not unlike a weird scene in a sensation 
drama, taking into consideration the accessories — the over- 
hanging trees, the twilight, the dim fire. 

At last the performance assumed a gayer tinge ; the 
chorus grew louder and livelier ; the man was supposed to 
be dispossessed, and he- hobbled from the scene. I should 
imagine that the Indians were very divided in opinion on 
Larrione's skill ; some, from the expression of their faces, 
were apparently impressed, others seemed to laugh his pre- 
tensions to scorn, and to look on the whole thing as a 

The Indians on the river had, in the summer-time, a 
peculiarly haggard appearance, caused apparently from in- 
cessant dissipation ! They were constantly dancing, sing- 
ing, or eating, and slept but little. The perpetual day- 
light of the short summer has a wakening tendency ex- 
cept when one is thoroughly fatigued, and the natives 
seemed to feel it. 

I saw at this village and elsewhere on the river small 
chairs composed of birch-bark, intended for the use of chil- 
dren. The engraving explains their shape, and shows the 
arrangement of a piece of wood so placed that the child's 
limbs are not likely to become bow-shaped ! The infant 
sits comfortably on a layer of moss, and is often carried on 
the maternal back on such a contrivance. The sketch is 
respectfully dedicated to the mothers of England, and any 
enterprising Oxford Street baby -jumper or rocking-chair 
maker is welcome to the idea. 

Child's Birch-Bark Chair. 


If birch-bark is not obtained, let him substitute papier- 
mache or gutta-percha. Through the child's nose will be 
seen a miniature ornament, like that already described in 
connection with Indian children of a larger growth: In 
this case also. " all rights are " not "reserved." 


234 Meet a Deserter. 



Meet a Deserter. — Indian Taste for " Nigger " Minstrelsy. — Tracking. — La- 
goon. — Piles of Drift-wood. — Nuclukayette. — Unsophisticated Indians. — 
Ceremony. — Leave the Russians. — The Indian's Head. — Mountain 
Gorge — Indian Dogs. — Canoe Leak. — The Rapids. — The "Ramparts." 
— Moose-hunting. — Islands. — Overhanging Banks. — Shallows. — Short- 
est Night. — First English Indians. — Porcupine River. — Fort Yukon. 

June 5th. — We got off about 5 A.M., and travelled till the 
noonday heat compelled us to camp for a time. The even- 
ing and early morning are the only times for travelling in 
this country during the brief summer. Few would believe 
that here, almost in the latitude of Behring Straits, it was 
nearly 80° in the shade, and the effect was nearly doubled 
by the fact that this heat followed so closely on the intense 
cold of winter. We wished, as far as possible, to accom- 
pany the Eussian traders, or we would long ere this have 
travelled exclusively by night ; but they preferred the day, 
for reasons best known to themselves. After we left them 
we followed our own ideas in this matter. 

In the cooler afternoon we again started, and were pro- 
ceeding steadily, when we were surprised to see, a little 
way ahead, a large fire on the beach. Indians rarely make 
such, but prefer to sit, even in winter, shivering over a few 
sticks, and we felt sure that it must be the camp of a white 
traveller or travellers. We landed, ran up to the place, 
and found standing there a deserter from the Hudson Bay 
Company's fort. He had, with one Indian, descended the 
river thus far, when his canoe had upset, and his few world- 

The Deserter's History. 235 

ly possessions, including his gun, had gone to the bottom. 
He and his companion had managed to get ashore, clinging 
to the canoe, and were now calmly drying their clothes, 
waiting for something to " turn up." We of course frater- 
nized and supplied them with a few necessaries. The 
" white man" — very slightly the whiter of the two, by-the- 
by — declared that our supper that night beat any thing he 
had eaten for years. Ivan, who camped near us, imme- 
diately asked him to " chi peat," and gave him a blanket. 
We tried to induce him to return with us, which he would 
have done willingly enough, but for the fear of being treat- 
ed as a deserter. Poor fellow, he had experienced a hard 
life for many years, and some real or fancied grievance at 
Fort Yukon had caused him to take this step. He had 
been in the Company's service for a long period, and had 
entered it when quite a youth. 

We learned subsequently that he made his way to St. 
Michael's, and got away on a vessel touching there. As 
he had been through a large part of the Hudson Bay and 
Russian American Companies' posts from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, he had certainly made the "North-west Passage" 
by land with a vengeance. 

6th. — Bidding adieu to the stranger in the afternoon, we 
travelled steadily till 4 A.M. on the 7th. There was no 
darkness whatever — night was no night: a subdued twi- 
light stood in its place, and the sunset glow never left the 
horizon till it merged in sunrise. The Indians worked 
steadily, for Indians ; we did our best to keep them in a 
good-humor, and they were specially fond of harmony. I 
will guarantee that any future traveller on the river, within 
the next few years, will hear snatches of "nigger" min- 
strelsy which we taught them. They readily acquired sim- 
ple tunes; their great favorites were "Marching through 
Georgia " and " Excelsior." The latter, with its insane 


236 Tracking. 

chorus of Upidee-idee-ida ! is well adapted for any nation, 
people, or tongue. 

The water had now fallen several feet, and we began to 
get a good deal of tracking. Our Indians were sometimes 
barefooted, but more commonly wore the water (or summer) 
boots of the country, %. e., boots made entirely from seal-skin 
well grease'd, and water-proof, and varying only in length. 
The work was no joke ; now they were floundering in 
slimy mud, now climbing over logs or round small rocky 
bluffs, with the line fixed to their shoulders, and the cur- 
rent making the canoe drag on them. The steersman had 
enough to do to keep the boat off shore or out of too shal- 
low water. We again entered a lagoon of the river, run- 
ning in a northerly direction for twenty-five miles, with 
high bluffs on the east side, and, as usual, full of islands. 
Bounding one of these appeared an interminable journey, 
and Dall seriously asked me to turn the canoe round ; he 
considered we were in some tributary of the Yukon ! We 
at last reached the main stream, however ; the island was 
fifteen miles in length. 

On the 7th we passed low, swampy land, whose principal 
production appeared to be musquitoes, and early on the 
8th reached the mouth of a large stream entering from the 
west, and known by the Indians as the Towshecargut 
River. At the confluence we found an immense pile of 
drift-wood, perhaps fifty feet high, the accumulation of 
ages. We lighted our fire near it, took our regular dose of 
tea, and then proceeded on our journey. We again got a 
favorable breeze for a short time. The river there was very 
wide, with many islands. In the evening we made the 
junction of the Tanana River and the Yukon, between 
which, on a tongue of land, Nuclukayette, an Indian trad- 
ing-ground of importance, is situated. We purposely passed 
it by nearly two miles, and then, with the Russians and a 


Unsophisticated Indians. 239 

whole fleet of Indian canoes, crossed the river, so that with 
drifting down we should just make the village. On arrival 
the Eussians fired their large gun, and we kept up a run- 
ning volley from our miscellaneous collection of arms. 

This place is the furthest point ever reached by the Eus- 
sian traders, and is about 240 miles above Nulato. Within 
the last two or three years some of the Hudson Bay Com- 
pany's men have also come down with trading-goods to this 
village. Hither come Indians from all quarters. Co-yu- 
kons, Newicarguts, Tananas, and even the Kotch-a-kutchins 
from Fort Yukon. On some occasions their gatherings have 
numbered 600 persons. The Tananas had not arrived, but 
we met a number afterward. I believe them to be the most 
unsophisticated Indians to be met with at the present day. 
They were gay with painted faces, feathers in their long 
hair, patches of red clay at the back of their heads covered 
with small fluffy feathers, doubled-tailed coats, and panta- 
loons of buckskin, much adorned with fringes and beads', 
and elaborately- worked fire-bags and belts. They reminded 
me of the ideal North American Indian I had read of but 
never seen. 

On landing at this village a ceremony had to be gone 
through, possibly to test whether we had " strong hearts " 
or not. The Indians already there advanced, whooping, 
yelling, and brandishing their guns till they reached us, 
and then discharged them in the air. We, with the Indians 
just arrived, returned the compliment, and then the chief 
whose acquaintance we had made during winter came for- 
ward and welcomed us. This man had treated Ketch- 
um and Labarge very well in their trip in the winter, and 
they had left a letter for us, asking us to give him powder, 
etc. We found this place almost bare of provisions ; the 
Indians dancing and singing all the same with empty stom- 
achs, knowing that the season for moose-hunting was at 

240 Leave the Russians. 

hand. The chief and some others brought us small quan- 
tities of sweet fat. 

We had expected to meet Antoine Houle, a half-breed 
interpreter from the English fort, but he had left the day 
before we arrived, having traded all his goods. He had 
virtually been starved out of this village. We dispatched 
an Indian " express " after him, to ask him to wait and bear 
us company ; but the man returned without succeeding in 
reaching him, having delayed by the way to shoot two 

9th. — We rested here till half-past three o'clock in the 
afternoon, and then bade adieu to our Russian friends. 
We hired an Indian from the JSTuclukayette village in place 
of one of those from Newicargut ; and he proved a good, 
sturdy, steady-going native, with an intimate acquaintance 
with the great river. Several canoes again accompanied 
us, each with a wooden bowl or birch-bark basket of embers 
on board, the smoke from which kept off the musquitoes, 
and enabled the travellers to raise a fire ashore at camp- 
time, or when their craft required repairs. Among our In- 
dian escort at this time were some Tananas. I have spoken 
of the patches of red clay stuck on the back of their heads, 
and their purpose, which is one of adornment. But when 
they are not in full dress, when the feathers have tumbled 
out and left a mass of fluff and dirt in the hair, it has a very 
disagreeable appearance. The first time I observed it I 
supposed the man had some terrible head disease, and offer- 
ed him a small piece of soap, requesting him at the same 
time to keep out of my tent till he had washed himself. 
He took the soap, smiled at my ignorance of the fashions, 
and went away. I suspect his head is unwashed to the 
present day. It is a question whether he had ever before 
seen soap. 

Immediately above Nuclukayette the river narrows, and 

The Eapids. 241 

is shut in by wooded hills and craggy heights. From this 
point we travelled exclusively by night, or by what stood 
in its place. As we had two men navigating our birch-bark 
tender, we were able to change our crew occasionally, and 
keep all pretty fresh. Birch-barks are so easily navigated 
that I should adopt them exclusively if travelling in that 
country again. The dogs belonging to the Indians with us 
went the larger part of the journey by land, and often had 
a good deal of trouble in getting round the cliffs jutting 
into the river. When we crossed the stream, an event of 
constant occurrence, they swam after us through very swift 
rapids, and where there was a width of half or three-quarters 
of a mile. These dogs had a better time of it, though, than 
those at the Eussian forts, where it was usual in summer to 
let them forage for themselves. Here they always got some- 
thing given them, and often fed luxuriously. They proved 
of a goo(J deal of use, as they constantly scoured the woods 
for something eatable. In the evening they found a young 
moose, which they surrounded till the Indians were enabled 
to kill it. We travelled this night about twenty-six miles. 

Early in the morning of the 10th we found our skin 
boat leaking badly, from having touched on rocks. We 
immediately went ashore, and found too large slits ripped 
in the seams. Fortunately, Indian women among those 
accompanying us were ready to sew the places for a con- 
sideration of a (penny) looking-glass and a few trifles, to 
which we added a cup of tea, with a little broken biscuit 
floating on the top of it — a ruse worthy of the traveller's no- 
tice whose supply may be limited. The biscuit swells con- 
siderably, and looks imposing, while it serves to disguise 
the weakness of the tea ! 

10th, 11th. — Started about 2 p.m., and again tracked the 
larger part of the distance. Travelled generally in a N.N .E. 
direction. In the evening we came to the " Eapids," an 


212 The "Eamparts." 

exaggerated account of which, derived from the Eussians, 
had made us fear that we might find great difficulty in pass- 
ing them. The river here is comparatively narrow ; and a 
long island of rocks, at that time submerged, makes an ob- 
struction, and the water boils, fumes, and frets around them. 
But there is a clear channel on either side ; that on the 
west side is especially good. There were other rocks more 
or less submerged, and the water was very strong, running 
perhaps seven knots. For the greater part of the way we 
tracked from rocks on the west side, occasionally having 
to take our Indians on board and paddle with great vigor. 
It would be easy to make this a sensational affair, but in 
truth we passed them without great difficulty. A steamer 
could go through them, except perhaps for the first fort- 
night in June, when the water is at its strongest. A good 
deal, however, depends on the height of the water. Ketch- 
um, the previous year, found it ten feet higher, afid there- 
fore could not track from the rocky bank. The water had 
fallen at this time at least twelve feet (from its highest point 
of the season). 

The heights surrounding the gorge we were now passing 
through are known (at Fort Yukon) as the " Eamparts," 
from crags and rocks of castellated structure which tower 
grandly above the river. 

The Indians brought Dall a fossil tooth of a large size, 
and there is little doubt that some interesting collections 
might be made in this direction. See Appendix (VI.). 

A small stream enters the Yukon about six miles above 
the "Rapids" on the west side, known as the Klakinikot 
River. The dogs found a porcupine, and one of the Indians 
shot it. 

We camped at 4 A.M., finding wild gooseberry and cur- 
rant bushes on the bank. I had previously seen a quantity 
of wild rhubarb, which the Indians gather in quantities, 

v " : " '^"" 

Moose -Hunting. 215 

and it really was very little inferior in flavor to the culti- 
vated kind. The wild rose was everywhere abundant. 

11th, 12th. — We made a start at half-past 4 p.m., still 
passing through a mountain. gorge, but of a more open na- 
ture. About 9 p.m. found we had again damaged our ca- 
noe, and stopped to repair it. 

This part of the river abounds with moose. At this sea- 
son the musquitoes m the woods are a terrible scourge, and 
even the moose can not stand it. He plunges into the wa- 
ter, and wades or swims, as the case may be, often making 
for the islands.* This is therefore a favorite part of the 
Yukon for the Indian hunter. The moose are scarce below 
Nuclukayette, and never known as low as Nulato. They 
must, however, be abundant on the smaller rivers, as, for 
example, on the JSTewicargut, where the meat obtained was 
nearly all of this animal. In winter, it is said, the Indians 
can, by following them on snow-shoes, tire them out, and 
so get near enough to kill them. 

Later in the evening the dogs found one near the river 
and fastened on him, and he was soon dispatched. In the 
water Jie is a very clumsy animal. The meat is excellent; 
far above deer or even reindeer meat, and its nose, properly 
stewed down, is a great luxury — better to my mind than 
the other extremity of the beaver, its tail, which is every- 
where considered something specially delicious. 

But for the occasional excitement of hunting, our trip 
on this part of the river would have been very monoto- 

On the 13th June the dogs again routed a moose out of 
the woods, and we easily shot it. Early the next morning 
we shot a second. On the evening of the loth we were 
proceeding steadily, when we saw acovf-moose, with a calf 

* In some cases the Indians in numbers surround an island known to 
have moose or reindeer on it, and a regular battue ensues. 

246 Islands. 

following her, swimming for the very bank that we must 
pass, and paying no attention whatever to us, although we 
made a good deal of noise. I instantly jumped ashore 
and ran along the beach, but the mother was too quick 
for me, and managed to get into the woods. I shot the 
calf, with some qualms of conscience, I must admit. It 
proved the very finest meat we had tasted ; others were 
shot subsequently by us, and one was killed in the water 
by the knife of an Indian. The natives do not always 
waste powder and shot over them, but get near the moose, 
manoeuvring round in their birch-bark canoes till the ani- 
mal is fatigued, and then stealthily approach and stab it in 
the heart or loins. When full grown, they weigh 700 lbs. 
and upward, and have been obtained 1200 lbs. in weight. 

As long as we were among the " Eamparts" we tracked 
constantly from the beach, but on the 15th we emerged 
from the gorge, and found the river again opening out into 
lagoons and shallows, with innumerable islands. The 
banks are much worn away and undermined by the current. 
It is no uncommon thing to find trees growing with their 
roots dangling in the air, and only supported by a little 
moss-bound earth. These are, of course, frequently falling 
in.- It was sometimes difficult to avoid getting our canoe 
half-filled with loose earth which was slipping from these 
" leaning" banks, and the edges of the river were much ob- 
structed by half-sunken trees and logs. We frequently 
tracked from the water, our men proceeding carefully for 
long distances in apparently interminable shallows. Our 
baidarre seams ripped frequently, and needed constant sew- 
ing ; and travel was therefore somewhat harassing. 

19^, 20th. — The water alternately strong and shallow, 
sometimes both together. Early on the 20th a terrific rain- 
cloud burst over us: at last we gave in from sheer fatigue, 
drenched to the skin. We soon made all right by raising 

Shortest Night. 


a gigantic fire near a pile of drift-wood. On other Ameri- 
can rivers wood for a steamer is sometimes a matter of dif- 
ficulty ; here it is ready, only requiring to be cut into 

21st, 22d. — We knew that we could not be far from 
our destination, and travelled hard to 
make it. This was the shortest night 
of the year — the sun setting at a few 
minutes after 11, and rising about a 
quarter to 12. How near we were 
to the Arctic Circle I leave to those 
who thoroughly understand the sub- 
ject ; suffice it to say, the sun was ab- 
sent from our gaze not over forty -five 

Toward 7 o'clock in the morning we 
met the first of the Upper Indians, a 
branch of the Kotch-a-kutchins. They 
were camped by a " slough" of the 
river, engaged in drying fish, some of 
which they were glad to trade for our 
tobacco, the supply at Fort Yukon 
having been exhausted. They were 
apparently better provided with guns, 
clothing, and tents than the " Rus- 
sian" Indians. They were cleaner, 
and better mannered. In the course 
of the morning their chief — " Sakne- 
ota " (known as " Senitee" at the fort) 
— arrived, and immediately made us a present of moose- 
meat, and we returned the compliment in some trifles. 

22c?, 23d. — We determined this night to make our des- 
tination, and let nothing stop us, and therefore halted twice 
for rest and refreshment in place of once, as heretofore. 


248 Fort Yukon. 

We travelled very steadily, refusing to listen to our In- 
dians, who were very fatigued, and wished to camp • and a 
little before noon we made the mouth of the Eat or Por- 
cupine Eiver, entering the Yukon from the north. ' Half a 
mile's paddling brought us in sight of Fort Yukon, and we 
gave vent to our jubilant feelings in a volley of fire-arms, 
which was immediately answered from shore. As to Kuri- 
ler, he blazed away till we were all deaf, but for once we 
let him have his way. Landing, we found two young 
Scotchmen and a French half-breed, the sole occupants of 
the fort, the commander and many of his men being absent 
on the annual trip for supplies. A large crowd of Indians, 
awaiting their return, were camped We shook 
hands with every body, including the Indians, and were 
soon installed in a room of the fort. Thus ended a jour- 
ney of 600 miles, occupying twenty-nine days — twenty-six 
of which had been engaged in actual travel. 

Life at Foet Yukon. 251 



Return of the Commander and Missionary. — Information received from 
them. — Mackenzie and the Yukon. — The Indians. — Numerous Tribes. — - 
The Furs. — Fictitious Black Fox.— Missionary Work. — Return of our 
Explorers from the Upper Yukon. — Fort Yukon Sledges, etc' 

On the 26th June, the commander, Mr. M'Dougall, re- 
turned, and with him the Rev. Mr. M 'Donald, a missionary 
of the Church of England stationed there. Both of these 
gentlemen welcomed us warmly, and in their society we 
spent many pleasant hours. 

Their news from the outer world was later than ours. 
Copies of The Nor '-wester , a paper published in Red River 
Settlement, and of dates up to the end of 1866, told us of 
the successful working of the Atlantic cable, and many 
other events of the day. 

Our new friends did all that was possible to make our 
stay agreeable, and, as they had just brought in their sea- 
son's goods, we fared luxuriously for such an out-of-the- 
world place. Our stores, too, were of some assistance, yet 
we had a taste of the kind of life they endure }^ear after 
year. Moose-meat boiled, varied by boiled moose-meat, 
alternating with the meat of moose boiled, was' our staple 
diet ! This fort is so inaccessible that little else but trad- 
ing-goods are brought in. The commander and one or 
two of the men get a small allowance of flour, and all get a 
few pounds of tea, but the quantity is so small that it does 
not hold out more than two or three months, and for the 

252 Supply at Fort Yukon. 

remainder of the year they return to the eternal moose. 
Everything brought to this station is transported through 
the whole series of forts from York Factory, in Hudson's 
Bay, the men of each post contributing something toward 
their transmission. The employes of Fort Yukon fetch 
their goods* from La Pierre's house, a small post on the 
upper part of the Porcupine Eiver, a distance of 600 miles. 
The trip occupies them twenty days ascending the Porcu- 
pine, camping regularly, and but five or six days descend- 
ing it without camping. Between La Pierre's house and 
the Peel Kiver, a tributary of the Mackenzie, mountains 
intervene, and a long portage of eighty miles has to be 
made, over which the goods are packed on men's shoulders 
for the greater part of the distance. The nearest station 
on Peel Kiver is Fort M'Pherson, which is situated thirty 
miles above its confluence with the Mackenzie. The nearest 
fort on the Mackenzie is Fort Simpson, distant 1500 miles 
from Fort Yukon. 

The Porcupine or Rat River is undoubtedly that men- 
tioned in Mackenzie's "Voyages." When on the great 
stream that now bears his name, he was told of a river "in 
comparison of which," he says, " that on whose banks we 
then were was but a small stream ; that the natives were 
very large and very wicked, and kill common men with 
their eyes ;" that they were " adorned with wings," and 
that they could eat "a large beaver at a single meal." His 
informants also described it as falling into a great lake or 

* I took the measurements of the boats used for this trip, thinking that 
it might prove an item of importance to some future expedition. The boats, 
when loaded with a hundred "pieces," or packages, of an average weight 
of ninety pounds, draw only 2 to 2£ feet of water, and are of the following 
dimensions : 

Total length 41 feet. 

Length of keel 29 feet. 

Depth from gunnel to keel 3 feet 2 inches. 

Width of beam 9 feet G inches. 

Fort Yukon. 253 

sea. Now the Porcupine, with its virtual continuation the 
Yukon, answers well enough to this ; but it need hardly be 
said that the people — as we found them — were compara- 
tively commonplace after this description. 

Fort Yukon was founded in 1847. The present erec- 
tion was, however, commenced in 1864, and was in an un- 
finished condition last year (1867). The older fort was 
built a mile higher up the river, but the bank on which it 
was placed had been gradually undermined by the strong 
current, and the process of destruction had almost reached 
the gate of the station. It may fairly be considered as the- 
most remote of the Hudson's Bay Company's forts, and is 
in approximately the high latitude of 66° N. It is well 
known to be within the boundary-line of Kussian America, 
and the Hudson's Bay Company did for a time, at least, 
pay the Eussian American Fur Company for the privilege 
of trading within their territory. 

After our experience of the rather dirty Eussian forts, 
it was quite a relief to find newly-plastered walls, glazed 
windows, capital floors, open fire-places, and a general ap- 
pearance of cleanliness. In addition to the dwellings of 
the commander and men, there were magazines, stores, fur- 
room, fur-press, ice and meat wells. 

The river near the fort has no less than five distinct 
channels, and intervening islands prevent your seeing from 
bank to bank. • 

• After a few days the Indians mustered very strongly; 
canoe after canoe- arrived, and there was a constant blazing 
of musketry, as though the fort was in a state of siege. 
Over 500 natives were at one time congregated outside the 
station. They erected tents, open booths, and "lodges;" 
the latter being constructed of poles and moose-hides, and 
usually placed two together, the doorways facing each 
other, with a small fire burning between them. Each 

254 Muster of Indians. 

male, on arrival at the fort, received a present of a small 
cake of tobacco and a clay pipe ; and those who were out 
of provisions drew a daily ration of moose-meat from the 
commander, which rather taxed the resources of the estab- 
lishment. Indian hunters are attached to the fort, and 
some of the canoes brought in large loads of fresh and 
dried meat. 

There was a decided difference between the Upper and 
Lower Yukon forms of clothing.* At this place we saw 
quantities of buckskin dresses, and moccasins were com- 
monly worn. The leading men of the tribes assembled 
wore mock uniforms, presented to them by the company ; 
old "Red Leggings" in particular, one of the Kotch-a- 
kutchin chiefs, was gorgeous in one with immense gilt 
epaulets, brass buttons, and trimmings, and had as many 
colored ribbons hanging from his cap as would stock ten 
recruiting-sergeants for life. Many, had "capotes," shirts, 
and coats of civilized appearance, purchased in the store. 
In winter these people wear moose-skin shirts or robes, 
with the hair turned inward. 

We here met the representatives of many tribes. The 
Kotch-a-kutchins* (or lowland people) are the Indians of 
the immediate neighborhood. Higher on the Yukon (or 
Pelly, as it has been long marked in our maps) dwell two 
tribes, the " An Kutchins " and the " Tatanchok Kutchins." 
The former are known by the " voyageurs " of the company 
by the flattering epithet of Gens defoux, and the latter bear 

* In the Appendix (V.) will be found a full vocabulary of the Kotch-a- 
kutchin dialect, made by the late Major Kennicott, whose death while en- 
gaged in our service I have already recorded. It was compiled long before, 
during his visit to the territory in 1859-62, when he passed through the 
larger part of the Hudson's Bay Company's posts. He never lived to make 
the trip nearest his heart — that from the Pacific (Norton Sound, Behring 
Sea) to Fort Yukon, the journey above described. His lengthened journey 
just mentioned was made from the Atlantic States, and Fort Yukon was 
the farthest point he reached. 

Hya-qua Shells. 255 

the name of Gens de hois. Some of the Gens de bouleau, or 
Birch* Kiver Indians, and Gens de rats, or Rat (or Porcupine) 
River Indians, were also present. Large numbers of the 
Tanana Indians, Gens de butte (or knoll people), the original 
" mountain men," mustered on this occasion, and were, as I 
have before stated, undoubtedly the most primitive people 
we met. Their clothing was much befringed with, beads, 
and many of them wore through the nose (as did most of 
the other Indian men present), an ornament composed of 
the Hya-qua shell {Dentalium entalis or Entalis vulgaris). 
Both of the fur companies on the river trade with them, 
and at very high prices. These shells* were formerly used, 
and still are, to some extent, as a medium of currency by 
the natives of Vancouver Island and other parts of the 
north-west coast. I saw on the Yukon fringes and head 
ornaments, which represented a value in trade of a couple 
of hundred marten-skins. 

Of the great river on which the Tanana people dwell we 
know nothing. From information derived at Fort Yukon 
I infer that its upper waters are not far from the Upper 
Yukon. The Tananas sometimes cross to Fort Yukon by 
a land-route. From the diminished volume of the Yukon 

* See the " Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London," March 8, 
1864, where specimens, brought home by J. K. Lord, Esq., are commented 
on by Dr. Baird. Mr. Lord says, speaking of their use among the inhabit- 
ants of Vancouver Island and British Columbia and adjoining coasts, "The 
value of the Dentalium depends upon its length. Those representing the 
greater value are called, when strung together end to end, a ' Hi-qua ;' but 
the standard by which the Dentalium is calculated to be fit for a 'Hi-qua' 
is that twenty-five shells placed end to end must make a fathom, or six feet 
in length. At one time a ' Hi-qua ' would purchase a male slave, equal in 
value to fifty blankets, or about £50 sterling." These shells are generally 
obtained from the west coast of Vancouver Island. 

Although I have, in the above quotation, followed Mr. Lord in his meth- 
od of spelling the word " Hi-qua," I must lean to my own mode printed in 
the text as conveying a closer approximation to the usual pronunciation of 
the word. 

256 Miseely Indians — Fues. 

water above the confluence of the Tanana Eiver, the latter 
must evidently be a very grand stream. 

The women of all these upper tribes dress more simply 
than the men, and wear few ornaments. They do more 
drudgery than the females of the Lower Yukon and coast 
of Eussian America. They adopt a loose sack garment 
very plainly cut, with large loose sleeves. In the fort some 
of the Indian women wore European clothing. 

It is said that some of the chiefs and "big Injiens" of 
these tribes have large piles of beads — of which they make 
no use — secreted, miser-like, in the woods. They had 
bought them, not knowing how better to invest their capi- 
tal, after acquiring all the guns, blankets, knives, and pots 
they needed. Generally they appeared to thrive under the 
auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company, who I believe treat 
them better than they do their own employes at these inac- 
cessible posts. The first Indian who brings furs can get 
any thing there is in the fort ; the men can only draw a 
fixed amount of clothing and tobacco, and get the poorest 
kind of provisions. I am well aware that this is not the 
case in the larger forts and factories, but at a place like 
Fort Yukon — which must be, by the way, a profitable sta- 
tion — no provisions worth speaking of are brought in at 
all, although large quantities of heavy goods, hardware, 
guns, etc., are transported thither. 

The fur-room of the fort was a sight not to be witnessed 
every day; thousands of marten-skins hanging from the 
beams, and huge piles of common furs lying round. They 
also get a very respectable number of silver-gray and black 
foxes. Apropos of the latter, I once heard an anecdote,' 
bearing rather heavily on the Hudson's Bay Company. A 
man in their service purchased, in the hurry of trading, a 
fictitious black-fox skin — one that had been originally white, 
but that had been dyed by Mr. Indian, perhaps as a grim 

Missionary Work. 257 

joke on the company. Of course the fraud was eventually 
discovered, but it did not end there. The full commercial 
value of the fur was charged against the salary of the un- 
fortunate trader, who thus paid more pounds than it had 
cost shillings at the time of purchase. If this be true, com- 
ment is superfluous. 

The wolverine is specially valued by all the Indians, on 
account, doubtless, of the difficulty in capturing it. These 
furs — in commerce nearly worthless — are yet bought by 
the Hudson's Bay Company, who then intrust them to In- 
dians well known at the forts to trade at a distance for 
marten or other skins. Mr. Ked-skin is allowed half profits. 

The tariff fixed for Fort Yukon was rather higher than 
that of the Eussian posts. A gun nominally worth about 
forty shillings brought twenty " skins." This term is the 
old one employed by the company. One "skin" (beaver) 
is supposed to be worth two shillings (!) and it represents 
two marten, and so on. You heard a great deal about 
" skins " at Fort Yukon, as the workmen were also charged 
for clothing, etc., in this way. If we asked the worth of a 
pair of unmentionables, we were told six "skins:" a pair 
of common moccasins represented one skin, and so on. 

During our stay, the Kev. Mr. M 'Donald, who is a repre- 
sentative of our Church Missionary Society, held several 
services with the Indians, addressing them sometimes di- 
rectly, and sometimes through the fort interpreter, Antoine 
Houle — a man who speaks French, English, and any num- 
ber of Indian dialects. They listened with apparent atten- 
tion, and joined in some singing. This gentleman has 
taught some of the younger people to read English, and 
his influence is doubtless good. I could not, however, help 
thinking that with an audience of Indians, representing 
half a dozen different tribes, speaking as many dialects, it 
must be very questionable whether they all understand the 


258 Missionary Work, 

missionary's words. As in other places, so here there is a 
general jargon called "broken slavee," used for purposes 
of intercourse ; but such a bastard dialect will barely ex- 
press the language of common life, how much less then the 
figurative language of the Bible.* One of the great diffi- 
culties in Mr. M 'Don aid's way in this place is that the In- 
dians are for the larger part of the year scattered all over 
the country hundreds of miles apart. Of the gentleman 
himself I can only speak in the highest terms ; he is an 
undoubtedly earnest and zealous missionary, and he has 
one point in his favor, that so far no whisky trader has 
come in to interfere with the good work in which he is en- 
gaged, and that no rival sect, so far as Fort Yukon is con- 
cerned, is present to unsettle the minds of his converts. 

It is worthy of mention that minute specks of gold have 
been found by some of the Hudson's Bay Company's men 
in the Yukon, but not in quantities to warrant a " rush" to 
the locality. 

On the 29th June Ketchumand Labarge returned from 
their trip to Fort Selkirk. It will be remembered that in 
the winter they left us at Nulato, and were to proceed on 
the frozen Yukon to the Hudson's Bay fort. This trip 
they had performed, but with great difficulty. It had oc- 
cupied them nearly two months, owing mainly to the soft- 
ness of the snow and insufficient dog-feed. The river, too, 

* We find in our own land that the Oriental tinge, the metaphors and 
parables of the Bible, render it somewhat hard to be understood, though we 
are addressed by teachers of our own race, who have a perfect command of 
our own language. The missionary, with at the best a foreigner's knowl- 
edge of a strange tongue, addresses those who have no collateral education to 
assist them, and who know little of any thing but their own immediate sur- 
roundings. I have shown before how a phenomenon of nature had no 
name in the Chinook jargon, and that the phrase "children of the forest" 
could only be translated in a manner to excite the Indian's laughter. It is 
not, then, difficult to understand how the poetry of the Bible might become 
the subject of a jest, and its imagery be wholly unintelligible. 

The Tapper Yukon. 259 

commenced its break-up before they reached Fort Yukon, 
and their journey lay through rotten ice and water. 

As soon as the river broke up fairly, and at about the 
same time that we started for Fort Yukon, they started for 
Fort Selkirk (always known as Mr. Campbell's Fort), now 
an abandoned station. Great difficulty had been experi- 
enced by the Hudson's Bay Company in keeping that fort 
supplied with trading-goods ; and Indians coming from a 
distance, and unable to sell their furs, had threatened the 
garrison on several occasions. After it was deserted the 
natives had burnt it down ; Ketchum brought us a piece 
of its blackened remains. 

He found the Upper Yukon running for the most part 
through mountain gorges, but navigable for the whole dis- 
tance (600 miles). Their supplies of meat and game had 
been good, the Indians everywhere peaceable, and desirous 
of seeing more of the white man ; their trip had been made 
in twenty-nine days, ascending and camping every night, 
and four days descending the stream (without camping). 
The general course of the river agreed with that laid down 
on Arrowsmith's maps. Ketchum gave me two fir-cones, 
brought from Fort Selkirk, which Dr. Hooker kindly ex- 
amined, and determined to be Pinus contorta — a variety 
never observed by us on the lower course of the Yukon, 
much of which is, be it observed, in a higher latitude. 

I had, in conversation with the Eev. Mr. M 'Donald, 
learned that the Indians from the Chilcat Eiver (N. W. 
coast of Russian America, about lat. 59° N.) sometimes came 
across to the Yukon at Fort Selkirk in fifteen or twenty 
days. Ketchum's inquiries elicited the same fact, which 
has been confirmed since my return to England by infor- 
mation obtained from Captain Dodd, of the "Beaver,"* by 

* The old " Beaver," now temporarily used as a surveying-vessel on the 
coast of British Columbia, was the first steam-vessel on the Pacific. She 

260 The Eat Indians. 

Admiral Collinson, C.B., who has very obligingly laid be- 
fore me extracts from his private journal (kept on H. M.S. 
" Enterprise " when engaged in the search for Sir John 
Franklin). Up to the present time, I believe, no white man 
has ever made the journey. Mr. Campbell used, by means 
of the natives, to communicate with Captain Dodd on board 
the " Beaver " in Lynn Canal. A copy of a chart rudely 
drawn by the natives was obtained by Admiral Collinson. 
This sketch-map showed a river, emptying into the west 
branch of Lynn Canal, which the natives ascended, and then 
made a land journey to a lake which itself was the source 
of the Lewis Eiver, a tributary of the Yukon. The return 
journey occupied them fifty days, much of it being against 
the stream. 

The Kat Indians (the natives on the Rat or Porcupine 
River, who trade at Fort Yukon) also communicate, main- 
ly via the Mackenize River, with the coast natives. In an 
extract from Admiral Collinson's journal (July 24, 1854, 
Camden Bay), I find the following note. Speaking of some 
delay, he says, " It was so far fortunate as it enabled our 
Baxter Island friends (the Esquimaux) to pay us another 
visit, and we soon found out that they had several strangers 
with them, the chief of whom produced a paper on which 
was written, ' The printed slips of paper delivered by the 
officers of H. M. S. " Plover" on the 25th April, 1854, to 
the Rat Indians, were received on the 27th June (of the 
same year) at the Hudson's Bay Company's establishment, 
Fort Yukon.' The Rat Indians, are in the habit of making 

was taken out in 1835 (via Cape Horn) by the Hudson's Bay Company, and 
this fact deserves to be recorded, as it was not till 1838 that the "Great 
Western" — the pioneer of our ocean service to America — made her first 
trip across the Atlantic. The "Beaver" is now commanded by Lieut. 
Pender, R.N. , who has been so often honorably mentioned in connection 
with this survey by Sir Roderick I. Murchison, in his annual addresses to 
the Royal Geographical Society. 

Fort Yukon Sledge. 261 

periodical trading excursions to the Esquimaux along the 
sea-coast. They are a harmless, inoffensive set of Indians, 
ever ready and willing to render every assistance they can 
to whites." This paper was signed by Mr. Hardisty, then 
clerk in charge of Fort Yukon, now commander of the 
whole district (Mackenzie Eiver, northern department). 
These facts may be of some value to the future traveller in 
that country. 

The sledge used at this fort, and generally through the 
Hudson's Bay territory at this part of the continent, is per- 
haps the simplest in the world. It is nothing but, a plank 
twelve to sixteen feet in length, one end bent upward in a 
prow-like form, having been softened by steam for the pur- 
pose. Thongs keep the curved end in its place, and a few 
cross-pieces and lashings complete it. It is a kind special- 
ly adapted for soft snow. Eunners are occasionally, but 
by no means universally, added. The snow-shoes common- 
ly adopted were shorter than those employed by the Eus- 
sians, and were pointed at either end. 


262 Drifting down Stream, 



Drifting down the Stream. — Yukon Salmon. — Arrival at Nulato. — Over- 
dose of Arsenic and Alcohol. — Trip resumed. — Indian Music. — Anvic. — 
The Mission. — Earthquake on the Water. — Andreavski. — The Mouths 
of the Yukon. — Smith's Observations. — Pastolik. — St. Michael's. — Prog- 
ress of the Telegraph. — Frozen Soil. — Scurvy. — Arrival of our Bark. — 
Plover Bay. — Return to San Francisco. 

On the 8th July our "baidarre" having been repaired, 
we took two additional birch-bark canoes, and all started 
down, determined to travel day and night to Nulato. Bid- 
ding adieu to our friends, who honored us with a grand 
salvo of musketry, we pushed out into the stream, and soon 
found we should have little need to exert ourselves. The 
current took us at the rate of 100 miles a day (of twenty- 
four hours) ; and usually our canoes were all lashed togeth- 
er, with sometimes a rude awning erected over all three, 
under which we smoked and dozed. We slept and ate 
our frugal meals on board, only going ashore twice or 
thrice a day to boil our tea and fry our fish. This was in- 
deed a holiday excursion, and all the more appreciated aft- 
er our experience of ascending the stream. All that was 
necessary was for one man to steer ; and, except when we" 
drifted out of the current, or stuck on a bar, our trip was 
made without trouble of any kind. I do not, of course, 
propose to narrate the incidents of our return journey to 
Nulato, as it was over the same part of the river that we 
had already passed over. On the 10th we arrived at the 

Yukon Salmon. 263 

"Rapids" above Nuclukayette, and found the Island of 
rocks looming out of the water very distinctly, and the cur- 
rent much less strong than before. Early on the 11th we 
reached Nuclukayette ; the Indians had separated, and only 
a few remained on the opposite side of the river drying fish. 

The Yukon salmon is by no means to be despised. One 
large variety is so rich that there is no necessity, when fry- 
ing it, to put fat in the pan. They are t$ken all down the 
river in weirs set in shallow places, in hand-nets of circular 
form, and by spearing. We saw the very pretty sight of a 
whole fleet of birch-barks, proceeding together as regularly 
as a company of soldiers. At a given signal the owners 
of each dipped his round hand-net into the water, and if, on 
raising it, a big salmon came up struggling to get away, 
there was a general shout of derision. I saw so much 
harmless fun and amusement among these Indians, and they 
evidently find so much enjoyment in hunting and fishing, 
that I could only wish they might never see much of the 
white man, and never learn the baneful habits and customs 
he is sure to introduce. 

There are at least two, and I think three, varieties of 
Yukon salmon.* The larger kind sometimes measures five 
feet. I have seen boats whose sides were made of the tough 
skin ; they are, however, not common, and not confined to 
the Lower Yukon and coast. On the 13th we arrived at 
Nulato. Our journey had occupied but five days twenty 
hours for 600 miles.f Here we received an indefinite com- 
munication with regard to our company ; one part of it was, 
however, plain — that every thing portable was to be 
brought to St. Michael. 

* Two varieties of Yukon salmon (obtained through the Hudson's Bay 
Company), Salmo consuetus and Salmo dermatinus, are described in the 
" Zoology of the Voyage of H. M. S. Herald." 

t It will be remembered that the same distance had taken us twenty-six 
days ascending the stream. 

264 Indian Music. 

In our absence, P , a workman, had stolen some ar- 

senically prepared alcohol, intended for the preservation 
of natural history specimens. Wishing to ingratiate him- 
self with the Kussians, and, as we charitably presumed, 
believing the alcohol to be pure, he gave some of them a 
good drink. The result can be imagined. Our poor Mus- 
covite friends suffered severely from inward gripes and 
colic ; had it not been for the large quantity they had taken 
they would have been killed. The overdose saved them. 

Before leaving we obtained a larger skin boat and two 
extra Indians, and at half-past eleven of the evening of the 
15th July we made a start down the great river, determin- 
ing to travel as before without camping. Before six o'clock 
next morning we passed Coltog, the point where we had in 
our sledge journey first struck the Yukon. This, a dis- 
tance of forty-five miles, was made within seven hours, a 
result due partly to our vigorous rowing, partly to the 
swift current. We passed many Indian villages, at which 
the Ingeletes were drying fish. Our Indians, as well as 
ourselves, made the hills and river-banks echo with songs ; 
all of us feeling " gay and festive," as the Americans say, 
and cheerfully looking forward to seeing our ships. I could 
not help remarking the air of an Indian chorus sung by 
our boatmen — usually in unison — which is here presented 
to the reader, a " song without words." 

Lento. Tremolando. 

It was said to be an obsolete song, for the words were not 
intelligible to the present people of the Yukon. 

On the 17th, at 3 A.M., we reached Yakutzkelignik, an 
Indian village then uninhabited, and later in the day we 

Village of Anvic. 265 

passed several small villages, among the principal of which 
was Shaglook, which is situated on the western bank, op- 
posite the mouth of a river of the same name, and where a 
great "slough" of the Yukon exists. At several of the 
villages we obtained salmon, dried and fresh, and one white 
swan, which proved very tough eating. In the evening 
we came to rapids, of which the Russians had given us a 
very exaggerated account. A steep bluff abutting on the 
river, and no beach, makes "tracking" from the bank dif- 
ficult, but the current is simply unusually strong, and we 
saw no falls whatever. 

On the 18th a head-wind impeded us, and we stopped at 
the village of Anvic, at the mouth of the river of the same 
name. It is one of the largest Indian settlements of the 
Lower Yukon. There we saw native pots and jars of clay, 
well fashioned, and used by the Indians for cooking pur- 
poses. The natives there, and generally on the lower river, 
were of miserable appearance and badly clothed ; they see 
less of traders than even the upper Indians. They were 
very easily satisfied with our payments for fish, etc. For 
five needles, or less than that number, we could buy a 
thirty-pound salmon, and tobacco went further than we had 
ever known it do before. Glazoonav, the first Russian ex- 
plorer of the Yukon, reached this point from the northern 
mouth of the river in 1835. 

19th. — Head-wind. We passed three villages, at one of 
which the wooden bowls, or " contogs," used all over the 
country, are manufactured. The tribe inhabiting this part 
of the country is known as the " Primoske " people. On 
the 20th, at half-past four in the morning, we reached the 
" Missie," or Mission, once exclusively what its name im- 
plies, but now both the residence of a priest of the Greek 
Church and the sole Russian trading-post on the lower 
river. We met the priest, or "pope," as the Russians term 

266 Clergy of the Greek Church. 

him, afterward at St. Michael's, and a very saintly and 
heavily-bearded individual he was, but said to be by no 
means averse to the bottle. The inferior clergy of the 
Greek Church generally are, as far as my experience goes, 
a convivial and social set of men. At Petropaulovski, on 
one festive occasion, the most inebriated person present was 
one of these representatives of the Church. It struck us 
as a very curious thing to hear the foreign merchants at 

the above town speaking of Madame , the "pope's 

wife," although we were well aware that the Greek clergy 
were allowed to marry. I had the honor of dancing on 
one occasion with the "pope's" daughter. 

The Eussians had centralized their forces at the Mission, 
and had withdrawn them from Andreavski — to be hereafter 
mentioned — and from the Kolmakoff Eedoubt on the Kos- 
kequim Kiver. From this place they made periodical trad- 
ing excursions. 

Most of the Eussians were absent on their annual trip 
to St. Michael's, but those remaining — three in number — 
soon placed the "samovar" on the table, and we went 
through the indispensable rite of drinking tea together. 
They had experienced a shock of earthquake the night be- 
fore ; we had felt it on the water as though our canoe had 
suddenly come into collision with a rock or " snag." The 
cliff at the Mission is of rock, riddled with holes — like that 
of St. Michael's — but of a more crumbling nature. The 
settlement comprises a chapel, with two buildings attached, 
the property of the priest, and three log-houses appertain- 
ing to the fur company. There is no fort or enclosed space. 
Immediately adjoining is a Primoske village, with houses 
on the surface much resembling those we had seen at Sitka. 

We stopped there about three hours, and then resumed 
our journey, passing more Indian houses and one village 
like that just mentioned. The Indians brought alongside 

Andreavski. 267 

our large boat, fish, ducks, and geese, and always appeared 
contested with what we paid them, asking for no presents 
— a circumstance that surprised and gratified us, as we 
were nearly out of trading-goods. All were poorly clothed, 
and rich in nothing but fish, their staple diet summer and 
winter. It is so abundant that they rarely hunt, although 
the country looks like a good locality for deer. It is wood- 
ed, with hills more or less bare. 

"We travelled almost exclusively on the west side of the 
river from Nulato downward. The night of the 20th-21st 
we drifted into a heavy fog, so that we could not see the 
bows of our canoe, and trusted ourselves entirely to the 
current. The morning broke fine, and cleared up for a 
hot day, 76° Fahr. in the shade. The banks of the lower 
river are much wooded. Long stretches of uninviting 
country, islands, and "sloughs" innumerable made our 
travelling monotonous. The current was more sluggish, 
yet certainly averaged three knots an hour. In spring it 
is much more rapid. A steamer, of good power, capable 
of going ten or twelve knots, and built in the American 
manner, as most suitable to a swift shallow river, with flat 
bottom and stern-wheel, could proceed 1800 miles on the 
Yukon, and sap the entire fur-trade of the country. Such 
an experiment has been projected by traders in San Fran- 
cisco. If the United States Government would — in the in- 
terests of exploration— undertake this, a comparatively in- 
expensive survey of the whole Yukon and surrounding 
country might be very easily accomplished. 

On the early morning of the 22d we reached the aban- 
doned fort Andreavski {Andreas Adanotchke), and found 
there one solitary white man, with an Indian. He was, for 
a Russian, in a very deplorable plight — he was quite out 
of tea ! and, as we were enabled to supply him with a little, 
we made his heart rejoice. ' He soon busied himself in get- 

268 Mouths of the Yukon 

ting out some coarse bread and raw salt-fish. This place 
had a regular enclosure, but had no bastions. T^o old 
cannon were lying rusty and unused in the yard. 

We borrowed the Russian's sole companion to show us 
the opening to the "Aphoon," or northern mouth of the 
Yukon. The course followed was approximately IST.N.W. 
to the sea, but the other mouths trend much to the W. and 
S.W. At half-past 8 o'clock on the morning of the 23d 
we entered it. This mouth is distinguished from the others 
by willows and larger trees on its banks ; the other open- 
ings are larger, and more shallow, and have little vegeta- 
tion on the islands and banks. The Aphoon mouth is a 
passage of a narrow and intricate nature ; streams enter it, 
and passages from the Kwich-pak mouth. There is water 
enough for a clumsy sloop or "barkass" brought up an- 
nually by the Russians. It has a tide. 

Mr. Everett Smith — a sailor by profession, and a member 
of our expedition — very carefully examined the Kwich- 
pak* or Yukon mouths, and from his notes, obligingly put 
at my disposal, I glean the following information. 

Mr. Smith found that while the " Koosilvac" mouth gave 
soundings of from two and a half to nine fathoms, a vessel 
could only enter it by going out first some distance to sea. 
The intermediate mouths were too shallow, and he came to 
the conclusion that the Aphoon mouth was the only avail- 
able one. His sketch-map (which I have incorporated with 
my own) shows innumerable passages running between the 

* Kwich-pak (pronounced Kwif-pak) is the name given to the river by 
the Indians of the neighborhood, and the term was adopted by the Rus- 
sians. On the upper river the Co-yukons and other natives call it "Yu- 
kona," and the Hudson's Bay Company adopted their name. Both signify 
"big river." Perhaps "Yukon" would better represent the true pronun- 
ciation of the word. It has not yet become a familiar name to geogra- 
phers, and, in consequence, may be found spelled in all ways — Yukon, Yticon, 
Youcon, and Youkon. 

Pastolik— St. Michael's. 269 

mouths. He found them blocked with ice till the first of 
June. Generally the water outside was extremely shoal; 
Smith found it fresh ten miles out at sea, and there is little 
doubt that this is true for a greater distance. The Indians 
drive the "balouga," or white grampus, into the shallow 
water of the Kwich-pak, and there spear them. On native 
authority, it is said that whales from Behring Sea go into 
the mouths to calve. Geese and ducks are for a season 
extremely abundant ; some breed there, but a larger num- 
ber take their flight to the Arctic. Smith, in three days, 
shot 104. My friend, Mr. Dyer, our ISTulato quartermaster, 
who accompanied Smith for a part of the time taken up in 
this examination of the mouths, told me that wild fowl and 
geese eggs were so plentiful that he could purchase from 
the Indians ten for a needle ! and obtain them by the hun- 

23d — We reached Pastolik, a village on the coast at the 
outlet of the Aphoon mouth sixty-five miles from St. Mi- 
chael's, and, for the first time after leaving Nulato, slept 
ashore. This place is celebrated for the manufacture of 
skin boats, and among the natives we saw a number of 
small bone carvings, some of which we purchased for nee- 
dles, etc. On the morning of the 24th we hired a second 
and more sea-worthy "baidarre," and, dividing our crew, 
sailed in company ; passing the Magemute village of Pik- 
migtalik, we reached in the evening the "canal" (as the 
Eussians term it, and it is really little more) which sepa- 
rates the Island of St. Michael's from the main -land. We 
tracked through some parts of it, and proceeding without 
camping at night, arrived atKedoubt St. Michael's at 3 P.M. 
on the 25th. Our journey of nearly 1300 miles had occu- 
pied us but fifteen and a half days {i. e., nine and a half 
days from Nulato, added to five days twenty hours from 
Fort Yukon to Nulato). 

270 Abandonment of the Telegraph. 

Oar friends of the expedition gave us a warm reception, 
and informed us that Major Wright had called at St. Mi- 
chael's in the bark " Clara Bell " to give us notice to get 
ready for an immediate departure — that the telegraph en- 
terprise had been abandoned. 

Our men during winter had been employed in building 
telegraph, and camping out for weeks together at tempera- 
tures frequently below the freezing-point of mercury ! In 
such a climate this work was no joke, and the simple proc- 
ess of digging a hole to receive the telegraph-pole became 
a difficult operation when the ground was a frozen rock 
with five feet of snow on the top of it, and where the pick 
and crow-bar were of more use than the spade or shovel. 
Frequently the snow drifted over these holes lightly, and 
many amusing incidents had occurred of men tumbling 
down into them head first, or slipping in and getting half 
buried in holes that they had dug themselves. Their depth 
was usually three feet, varying somewhat with the nature 
of the soil ; to dig six such, and clear the overlying snow, 
was considered a good day's work. In the autumn of 1865 
Colonel Bulkley visited both sides of Behring Straits. In 
Grrantley Harbor, Port Clarence (Eussian America), he 
found that the ground, covered with a heavy growth of 
moss in detached bunchy masses, was itself only thawed to 
about ten inches beneath the surface, and below that was 
frozen solid. Light soil on the Yukon was, we found, in 
summer thawed to fifteen or eighteen inches, while on the 
Siberian side of Behring Straits the loose, broken debris of 
rocks was thawed to a depth of three feet. The latter was 
almost devoid of vegetation. 

Then, again, our men had found that their axes and 
other tools constantly lost their edges, when used on frozen 
wood or soil, and cracked to pieces from the influence of 
intense cold. Yet they had persevered, and had put up a 

Plover Bay. 271 

large piece of the line; and I can sympathize with the feel- 
ing that prompted some of them at Unalachleet, Norton 
Sound, on hearing of the withdrawal of our forces, to hang- 
black cloth on the telegraph-poles and put them into mourn- 

Some few of the workmen had suffered from frost-bite 
and scurvy. Apropos of the latter terrible scourge, it is 
to be remarked that our men at Port Clarence, the worst 
fed of all our parties, who had lived for a long time on a 
native diet of walrus and seal blubber, had not suffered 
from it at all, while those in Norton Sound, who got a 
fair amount of flour, etc., from the Kussian posts, suffered 
severely from the disease. 

On the 18th August, after many a false alarm of a " ship 
outside," the " Clara Bell" arrived, and on the 29th of the 
same month we were all gathered once more in Plover 
Bay, on the opposite Asiatic shore, awaiting the arrival of 
.our largest vessel, the " Nightingale." 

In Plover Bay were now encamped 120 men who had 
wintered at places as widely apart as the Anadyr, Plover 
Bay itself, and Eussian America ; and Major Wright and 
Captain Norton, of the " Clara Bell," deserved great credit 
for the energy with which they had accomplished the task 
of collecting them. To most of the stations they had paid 
two visits: the first, of course, to give notice to the em- 
ployes in the interior. Of the men who wintered in these 
almost Arctic spots, but one had died, while a second, smit- 
ten by the charms of some lovely squaw, had determined 
to remain — a voluntary exile in Eastern Siberia ! Captain 
Kelsey, who had charge of the Plover Bay station, did all 
in his power to make the parties comfortable in their tem- 
porary camps. Kude erections of canvas, sails, poles, and 
planks, lined the shores of the little harbor, and our stay 
at " Kelsey ville " (as it has been already inserted on a map 

272 Broaching a Keg of Specimens. 

issued by the Department of State at Washington) will not 
soon be forgotten by us. During our stay, Captain Red- 
field, of the " Manuella," arrived ; and, after he had got 
through his trade with the natives, gave them a display of 
fire-works and blue-lights — a thing frequently done by the 
whalers. The exhibition took place on a lovely evening, 
and the calm water of the bay gave double effect to the 

While stopping in Plover Bay, some of our men found 
a keg of specimens preserved in alcohol, belonging to one 
of our Smithsonian collectors. Having had a long absti- 
nence from exhilarating drinks, the temptation was too 
much for them, and they proceeded to broach the contents. 
After they had imbibed to their hearts' content and become 
" visibly affected thereby," they thought it a pity to waste 
the remaining contents of the barrel, and, feeling hungry, 
went on to eat the lizards, snakes, and fish which had been 
put up for a rather different purpose ! Science was avenged 
in the result, nor do I think they will ever repeat the ex- 

I was informed by my friends, Bush, M'Crea, and Farn- 
ham, that at the Anadyr River blinding snow-storms had 
been prevalent during winter, and between log-houses no 
more than a hundred yards apart it had been found neces- 
sary to stretch a guiding-rope for the men. One of our 
barks, the " Golden Gate," "had been wrecked in Anadyr 
Bay the previous autumn in the following manner. She 
had grounded on a sand-bar, and the ice had formed round 
her before she could be got off. At a later period a gale 
of wind raised a bad sea, and the ice, smashing up round 
her, stove in an immense leak, and she was eventually much 
broken up in the hull. All her stores, rigging, and sails 
were stripped from her, but fortunately no one was lost or 
injured by her wreck. They had obtained supplies of meat 

Return to San Francisco. 273 

in quantities. On one occasion they purchased 150 head 
of reindeer, and preserved the venison frozen for several 
months. The herds belonging to the Tchuktchis of that 
part of Siberia were numbered by the thousand. 

On the 6th September Colonel Bulkley arrived in the 
" Nightingale," and, as soon as every thing and every body 
was on board, we set sail for San Francisco, and made an 
excellent run there in twenty-two days. 


274 The Value of Alaska, 



The Value of Alaska. — The Furs and Fisheries. — The Purchase an Act of 
Justice to Russia. — The Aleutian Islands. — Volcanoes. — Bogoslov Isl- 
and. — The Asiatic Origin of the Esquimaux. — The Tchuktchis. — Sea- 
going Canoes. — The Voyages of two Japanese Junks. — The connecting 
Links between the Tchuktchis and the Esquimaux. — Language. — De- 
generation of the Esquimaux. — Community of Goods. — The " Scha- 
man " and the " Angekok." 

That Russian America is likely to prove a bad bargain 
to the United States Government, I can not believe. The 
extreme northern division of the country may, indeed, be 
nearly valueless, but the foregoing pages will have shown 
that, in the more central portions of the territory, furs are 
abundant, and that the trade in them, which may probably 
be further developed, must fall into American hands. The 
southern parts of the country are identical in character 
with the neighboring British territory, and will probably be 
found to be as rich in mineral wealth; while the timber, 
though of an inferior growth, owing to the higher latitude, 
will yet prove by no means worthless. 
• The fisheries may become of great value. There are 
extensive cod-banks off the Aleutian Isles, and on many 
other parts of the coast. Salmon is the commonest of com- 
mon fish in all the rivers of the North Pacific, and is rated 
accordingly as food only fit for those who can not get bet- 
ter. In Alaska, as in British Columbia, the fish can be ob- 
tained in vast quantities simply at the expense of native la- 

Fisheries. 275 

bor. To this add the value of salt (or vinegar), barrels, and 
freight, and one sees the slight total cost which would be in- 
curred in exporting to benighted Europe that which there 
would be considered a luxury.* 

There is a further reason why the United States have 
done well to purchase this territory. It is an act of justice 
to the Russian Government. For the past twenty years the 
whalers in Behring Sea and the Arctic — who are mainly 
Americans — had traded at certain parts of the coast, and 
had thereby considerably reduced the profits of the Russian 
American Fur Company. Although nominally whalers, 
they were nearly all traders also. The Russians, albeit al- 
ways hospitable, were na'turally very averse to these vessels 
putting into their ports, and may be trading under their very 
noses. A large part of the whaling-captains had conse- 
quently never visited many of the larger Russian settle- 
ments, such as Sitka, Ounalaska, St. Paul's, or St. Michael's. 
Now all these and many other ports are perfectly open to 
them, while the cargoes of furs, walrus tusks, oil, etc., will 
enter San Francisco, or any other port in the United States, 
duty free — an important consideration to them. 

The chain of the Aleutian Isles, comprising four groups 
(the Fox, Andreanoff, Rat, and Blignie islands), f is a valua- 

* In Petropaulovski a merchant told me that he had made in this way 
$6000 in one season, at no more trouble to himself than that incurred in 
a little superintendence of the natives employed. The enterprising Ameri- 
can is the last man to neglect this source of profit. 

A recent newspaper " Correspondent " expresses surprise at the latest 
news from Sitka, which states that the carcass of a deer may still be pur- 
chased there for three or four dollars (12s. to 16.?.); a grouse or a salmon 
for 25 cents (Is.). But they are worth no more at this day in Victoria 
(V. I.), in the towns of the Columbia or Fraser rivers, and, at the date of 
my visit to Sitka, were to be obtained for a castaway coat, a string of beads, 
or a few charges of powder. 

+ Sarytsclieff (who accompanied Billings's expedition in 1791-2) deter- 
mined the geographical positions of many of these islands. Cook, Kotzebue, 
Liitke, and others have all done more or less toward the same end. 

276 The Aleutian Islands. 

ble part of the new purchase. The world owes their first 
discovery to Behring (in 1741). Almost immediately after 
this (from the year 1745) Eussian merchants of Siberia 
commenced trading on them, and to them we owe the dis- 
covery of the larger part of the chain. 

It tells us plainly how valuable were the cargoes of furs, 
etc., then obtained, when we find that out of eleven record- 
ed voyages* from 1745 to 1778, five were decidedly unfor- 
tunate, either ending in shipwreck or in the murder of part 
of the crews, and that, nevertheless, the Kussians persevered 
in the trade. Nowadays the Aleuts are often to be found 
serving as sailors on whaling and other vessels in the North 
Pacific. Until recently they were looked upon as the im- 
mediate subjects of the Eussian American Fur Company, 
and each male was required to pass three years in its serv- 
ice. The company had several stations on these islands, 
the principal of which was Ounalaska. 

The Aleutian Islands, besides having some commercial 
importance, yielding, as they still do, the furs of amphibious 
animals to a large amount, have many points of interest. 
On nearly all of them active or passive volcanoes exist, and 
on one or two geysers and hot springs have been discover- 
ed. There are records of very severe shocks of earthquake 
felt by the Eussian traders and natives dwelling on them. 
It is more than probable that large deposits of sulphur, as 
in Sicily, may be found there. On the following islands of 
the group, large volcanic mountains, etc., exist : 

Ounimak. (See p. 108.) The volcano of Chichaldinskoi (this mountain 
emits smoke) ; a second near it, apparently unnamed hitherto ; the Po- 
grommoi volcano. 

Akoun. One (smoking) volcanic peak ; hot springs. 

Akoutan. One active volcano. (See p. 109.) 

Oumnack. Vcevidovskoi and Touliksko'i volcanoes ; geysers. 

Bogoslov Island (Joan Bogoslov). (See p. 156).f 

* Coxe's "Russian Discoveries." 
. f " To the northward of Oumnack is a long reef stretching for twenty- 

Volcanoes, Etc. 277 

Amoukta. Extinct volcanoes. 

Segodam. Smoking mountains ; hot springs, etc. 

Atkha. Several, among which are the Korovinskoi and Klutchevskoi 

Kanaga. Smoking volcano. < 

Tanaga. Extinct (?) volcanoes. 
• Goreloy. Volcano of the same name, said to be the highest on the 
chain of the Aleutian Islands. 

Semisopochnoi. Several volcanoes. 

The authorities for the above list will be found cited in 
Findlay's "Directory for the Navigation of the Pacific 
Ocean," and comprise, among the number, the works of 
Krusenstern, Liitke, and Cook. 

six miles in a nearly north (true) direction, at the outer point of which is 
the Ship Rock. It was so named by Cook, and is in the form of a tower. 

" At 200 fathoms within the Skip Bock is the small Island of Joan Bo- 
goslov. It is of volcanic origin, and did not appear till 1796, after an 
earthquake. The length of this small island, from N.W. by N., to S.E. by 
S., is If mile. Its breadth is about the half of its length. A chain of 
rocks projects two miles beyond its N.W. extremity, and another a mile be- 
yond its N.E. point. According to the observations of Captain Wassilieff, 
the peak in the centre of the island is 2240 feet high. This island, as be- 
fore stated, is connected with Oumnack by a reef of rocks, which doubtless 
owe their origin t» a similar cause ; for, in 1778, Cook, and, thirty years 
later, Sarighscheff, sailed between the Ship Rock and the Island of Oum- 
nack." Baranoff (the founder of Sitka) furnished Krusenstern in 1817 with 
some account of this phenomenon, which the latter has recorded in his cele- 
brated " Memoires Hydrographiques." It is briefly as follows: In 1806 the 
peak just mentioned was first observed ; and, on May 1 in that year, "a vi- 
olent tempest from the north occurred, and, during its force, a rumbling 
noise, and distant explosions similar to thunder-claps, were heard at Ouna- 
laska. At the commencement of the third day the tempest abated, and 
the sky became clear. They then observed between Ounalaska and Oum- 
nack, to the north of the latter, a flame jutting out of the sea, and soon after 
smoke, which continued for ten consecutive days. After this, a white body, 
of a round form, was observed to rise out of the water, and increase rapidly 
in size. At the end of a month the flame ceased, but the smoke increased 
considerably, and the island kept on increasing. On June 1, 1814, they 
sent a baidar to examine it, but they could scarcely land, on account of the 
violent currents and the pointed rocks. The island was formed by preci- 
pices, covered with small stones, which were being continually ejected from 
the crater. In 1815 a second expedition found the island very much lower 
than in the previous year, and its appearance entirely changed. The prec- 
ipices had fallen, and were continually crumbling away." — Findlay's "Di- 
rectory," etc. 

278 Asiatic Origin of the Esquimaux. 

It need not be said that the Aleutian Islands, lying as 
they do so closely together, could be very easily examined 
by a scientific traveller who should take up his abode on 
one of them for a year or two. That they deserve such an 
examination can hardly be doubted. 

The allusions to the Tchuktchis, to the trade across 
Behring Straits, and to the coast peoples of Northern Alas- 
ka, scattered at intervals throughout many of the previous 
chapters, serve at least to confirm the observations and the- 
ories of many previous travellers and authors. 

Scientific men are now agreed on the Asiatic origin of 
the Esquimaux, even of those who have migrated as far as 
Greenland.* Of the Mongolian origin of the Tchuktchis 
themselves, no one who has seen individuals of that people 
would for a moment doubt. „A Tchuktchi boy taken by 
Col. Bulkley (our engineer-in-chief) from Plover Bay to 
San Francisco, and there educated and cared for in the 
family of a kind-hearted lady, was, when dressed up in 
European clothes, constantly taken for a civilized Chinaman, 
and two of our Aleutian sailors were often similarly mis- 
taken. This happened, it must be observed, in a city which 
is full of Chinese and Japanese. That the Aleuts, also, are 
of an Eastern stock, is to my mind undoubted. 

The intertribal trade carried on so regularly every year 
via Behring Straits (which is likely now to receive a decided 
check from the American traders, who will crowd into the 
country) proved with how little difficulty a colony of " Wan- 
dering Tchuktchis " might cross from Asia and populate the 
northern coasts of America. Open skin canoes, capable of 
containing twenty or more persons with their effects, and 
hoisting several masts and sails, are now frequently to be 

* See Markhnm " On the Greenland Esquimaux," Journal of the Royal 
Geographical Society, 1865. 

Sea-Going Canoes. 279 

observed among both the sea-coast Tchuktchis and the in- 
habitants of Northern Alaska. I have seen others that 
might be called " full-rigged " canoes, carrying main, gaff, 
and sprit-sails, but these were probably recent and foreign 

I may be excused if I here allude to two well-authentica- 
ted and oft-quoted facts. In the years 1832-3, two remark- 
able and unintentional ocean voyages — one of them termi- 
nating in shipwreck — were made from Japan to the north- 
west coast of Americaf and to the Sandwich Islands by junks. 
The last mentioned is known to have been ten or eleven 

* In a recent number of " Harper's (New York) Magazine," my friend Mr. 
Knox, who accompanied us across the Pacific in 1866, tells us that he heard 
during his stay in Siberia of a peculiar mode of effecting marine insurance, 
which is said to be in vogue among the Tchuktchis, and which, says he, " I do 
not think will ever be popular among American sailors." In crossing Behring 
Straits, the captain and owner of the boat — bearing in mind the Dutch prov- 
erb "zelf is de man" — when a storm arises, throws his crew, one by one, 
overboard, reserving his goods to the last. They allow themselves to be 
drowned with a complacency unknown to Christian .nations. I will not 
vouch for the story, nor would, I think, Mr. Knox. 

t See Washington Irving's "Astoria ;" also Sir Edward Belcher's " Voy- 
age of the Sulphur" (quoted by Findlay), wherein he says : " We received 
from the officers of the Hudson's Bay establishment several articles of Jap- 
anese china, which had been washed ashore from a Japanese junk wrecked 
near Cape Flattery. Mr. Birnie knew little of the details of the event ; but 
in the Appendix to Washington Irving's ' Rocky Mountains,' vol. i. p. 240, 
is the following account of it, in a letter from Captain Wyeth : { In the win- 
ter of 1833 a Japanese junk was wrecked on the N.W. coast, in the neigh- 
borhood of Queen Charlotte's Island, and all but two of her crew, then much 
reduced by starvation and disease, during a long drift across the Pacific, 
were killed by the natives. The two fell into the hands of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, and were sent to England. I saw them on my arrival at Van- 
couver in 1834.' Mr. Birnie states that it was at Cape Flattery, and not as 
above; and on this point his local knowledge makes him the best judge. 
'There were,' he says, 'two men and a boy purchased from the natives. 
As soon as it was known that some shipwrecked people were enslaved among 
the natives, the Hudson's Bay Company sent their vessel "Lana," Captain 
M'Neil, to obtain them by barter, and there was some trouble in redeeming 
the boy. They were subsequently sent to England, and then home, but their 
countrymen refused to receive them.' Further my informant could not ac- 
quaint me." 

280 Voyages of Junks. 

months at sea, and had nine Japanese on board, who never- 
theless arrived safely, anchoring in the harbor of Waialea, 
Oahu. The Sandwich Islanders (Hawaiians, or, as they are 
called in California, etc., " Kanakas"), when they saw these 
strangers much resembling themselves in many respects, 
said, "It is plain, now, we come from Asia." How easily, 
then, could we account for the population of almost any isl- 
and or coast in the Pacific. 

Such facts as these — the passage of comparatively frail 
vessels, blown away from their native coasts by typhoons or 
other usually violent gales, buffeted about for lengthened 
periods, yet eventually reaching foreign coasts thousands of 
miles from their own — should, I think, make us very cau- 
tious in our ideas on the limitation of native migrations. 

At what time, or by what route, the adventurous, discon- 
tented, or rebellious Tchuktchis, Onkilon, or Tunguse first 
wandered, sledged, or paddled on his way to Greenland, it 
behooves not me to say. The subject has already engaged 
the consideration of able and travelled writers, and no one 
has more clearly treated the subject than Mr. Markham 
(" Journal of the Royal Geographical Society," 1865). He 
has shown us that the native migrations which have peo- 
pled the coasts of northernmost America and Greenland 
commenced at the period when Togrul Bey, Zengis Khan, 
and other chiefs of less celebrity troubled Asia with their 
lust for conquest. " Year after year the intruding Tartars 
continued to press on. Sheibani Khan, a grandson of the 
mighty Zengis, led 15,000 families into these northern wilds, 
and their descendants, the Iakhuts (? Yakutz) pressed on 
still farther north, until they are now found at the mouths 
of rivers falling into the Polar Ocean." Neither were they 
the first inhabitants of the country along the banks of the 
Kolyma or Anadyr. Other and older people, who have 
now disappeared, have left their traces (ruined yours, etc.) 


in the whole of that country as far north as Behring Straits 
and Cape Chelagskoi.* 

Mr. Markham believes, in common with a large number 
of our best Arctic authorities, f in the existence of land 
round or near the Pole, and which may nearly connect Si- 
beria with Greenland, and sees in that land the route prob- 
ably taken by the adventurous wanderers. Between the 
traces of former life found at Cape Chelagskoi, and those 
observed on the Parry Islands, a gap of 1140 miles indeed 
intervenes, in which no such have been observed ; but this 
is, in all probability, simply owing to our ignorance. of those 

The Greenlanders may indeed have taken such a route, 
but the natives of Northern Alaska doubtless crossed by the 
"direct short-sea" passage, via Behring Straits. 

In comparing notes with my brother, who was pursuing 
his researches in Greenland during a part of the time that I 
was in Alaska, etc., we have noticed many points of simi- 
'larity between the Esquimaux on the one hand, and the 
Malemutes or Tchuktchis on the other. Some resemblances 
are, of course, simply on the surface, are obvious at first 
sight, and have been discussed before. Their food, costume, 
houses, implements, and weapons are closely allied in char- 
acter, and the resemblances could well enough arise from 
identity of wants, and from the similar nature of the coun- 
tries they inhabit. Were we to transplant a colony of 
Europeans to such countries, and shut them off from foreign 
and outside supplies, in a generation or two they would be 
living much as these natives do. These superficial points 
can never, therefore, prove much. Many of our older Arc- 

* Von Wrangell (Mrs. Sabine's translation), p. 372. See also p. 113 of 
this work. 

t See Captain Sherard Osbovn's Paper in the " Proceedings" of the Royal 
Geographical Society, May 7, 1868. 


tic explorers, and our more recent telegraph explorers, have 
been in those countries more or less clothed, fed, and housed 
in native fashion. 

It is rather to physical characteristics — languages (genu- 
ine, and not imported), customs, and tribal practices — that 
we must look for information. The Tchuktchi language 
is said to have a great resemblance to that of the Greenland 
Esquimaux. On this point I will say nothing, as my visits 
to the Siberian coast were hurried, and of short duration, 
while the subject has been already discussed by those who 
are excellent authorities.* But I would call, the attention 
of those interested in this matter to the very close similarity 
of some of the words in my Malemute (Northern Alaska) 
vocabulary, to be found in the Appendix, with those in the 
best Esquimaux vocabularies which we possess.f Thus : 

Malemute. Greenland Esquimaux. 

I Wounga U-anga. 

He ;..Oona Una. 

We Wurgut U-agut. 

You Itlepit Iblet. Illipse. 

Man Inuet Angut. Innuit. 

Woman Achanuk Arnak. 

Day Oblook Utlok. 

Sun Sickunyuk Sekkinek. 

Water Imuk Imek (salt water, Imak). 

Snow Kanik Kannik. 

Ice Seko Sikko. 

Head Neakuk Niakok. 

Face Keenyuk Kenak. 

Mouth Kanuk Kannek. 

Teeth Keeutik Kigutit. 

Wood Kushuk Kessuk. 

Canoe Omeuk-puk Oomiak. 

* Billings (quoted by Wrangell, p. 372, Mrs. Sabine's translation), also 
Wrangell elsewhere; Hooper's "Tents of the Tuski ;" Markham ("Journal 
of the Koyal Geographical Society" for 1865); Balbi's "Atlas Ethnograph- 
ique," and Klaproth's " Sprach Atlas," quoted in Washington's "Esquimaux 
Vocabulary, etc., for the use of the Arctic Expeditions." 

f My brother reminds me that the Greenland Esquimaux vocabularies 

Degeneeation of Gkeenlanders. 283 

And so on. I am fully aware that attention has been call- 
ed to this point before, but a special vocabulary of Malemute 
(Norton Sound) words has never been before published, ah 
though we have those of neighboring dialects — that of 
Kotzebue Sound, etc. 

That the Greenland Esquimaux has somewhat degener- 
ated, in both physical and mental characteristics, I can well 
believe. The average height of the Greenlander of to-day 
is under the European standard, while many individuals, at 
least of the Tchuktchis, are over it. This point is of itself 
of no importance whatever. Greenland, may be, is not a 
worse country than Northern Siberia ; but who knows what 
these races endured on their way thither, especially if they 
went by Mr. Markham's North Polar route ; and how far less 
food and intenser cold than they were accustomed to, with 
untold hardships superadded, may have stunted and dwarfed 
them? I am told that they are excessively simple and 
child-like, that they live in much harmony, quarrel rarely, 
and have many other good features: and the reader has 
only to turn to Hooper's "Tents of the Tuski" to find the 
same thing stated with regard to the Tchuktchis, and some 
of my previous pages to find similar statements with re- 
gard to the Alaskan peoples. 

My brother says much of the community of goods enjoy- 
ed among them, how the industrious hunter supplies the 
whole village crowd, as a matter of course, taking and get- 
ting no credit for it ; and how the more he gets, the worse 
he is off. This, which is more or less a feature of all the 
coast tribes in the North Pacific, is especially true in North- 
ern Alaska, on the Yukon, and in Norton Sound, where the 
chiefs, who are invariably good hunters or fishermen, often 
attain and keep their position by periodical distributions of 

were often acquired through Danish media, and that they have, therefore, 
been written in English with a foreign accent. 

284 Modes of Burial. 

their effects. They are themselves often the worst clothed 
and worst fed members of their own villages. Generosity 
is among them the rule, and not the exception. No man, 
woman, or child among them goes unfed, unhoused, or un- 
warmed, if there is food, dwelling, or fire in the settle- 

The " Schaman " (pronounced exactly like our word 
"showman," a very appropriate title!), the conjuror-priest, 
the " medicine-man " of the Tchuktchis (and also of the 
North Alaskan peoples, who use the same term), was, and 
apparently still is, represented in Greenland by the " An- 
gekok," who held similar powers, and was reverenced or 
feared accordingly. My brother says " the Danish pastors 
and missionaries believe that the Angekok is extinct. 
Publicly he appears to be so, but the natives are known to 
hold secret meetings, about which, strange to say, none of 
the Danes were able to learn details, and at these it is be- 
lieved Angekokism is still practiced." Their profession, be- 
sides including medicine and exorcism, made a prominent 
feature of rain and wind making. 

In Greenland, the former Esquimaux practice of burying 
the dead under a pile of stones has been abandoned, and 
they have adopted Danish customs. At the Anadyr Eiv- 
er I saw Tchuktchi graves which were covered by piles 
of reindeer horns. The " four-post " coffins, described in 
connection with the Northern Alaskan peoples, and which 
are probably a later inspiration, have been perhaps adopted 
for this reason : stones are less common — at least in Norton 
Sound, Port Clarence, and on the Yukon — than soil,~while 
the latter is frozen at a few inches beneath the surface at all 
seasons. Hence the real difficulty of making a grave — 
superadded to their natural indolence — has caused a new 
form of sepulture to be adopted. 

That some future North Polar Expedition will clear up 

Future Developments. 285 

every mystery "hanging over the route taken by these wan- 
derers from one desolate clime to another, I, for one, can not 
fail to believe, but the question has more of interest about 
it than of importance. 

286 Explorations in Asia. 



Major Abasa appointed Chief. — Arrival in Petropaulovski. — Travels in Kam- 
chatka. — Ghijega. — The Town, etc. — Route between Ghijega and 
Ochotsk. — The Explorations of Mahood and Bush. — Nicolaiefski, 
Mouth of the Amoor. — Travel to Ochotsk. — Reindeer-riding. — The 
Tunguse. — Ayan.— Ochotsk. — M'Creaand Arnold's Wanderings among 
the Tchuktchis. — Anadyrsk. 

The explorers of our W. U. Telegraph service made 
many important and interesting journeys in Asia, which 
certainly deserve to be recorded. I can not pretend to nar- 
rate their experiences fully. The following brief account 
of their travels may, however, be depended upon : it has 
been derived directly from themselves, with some additions 
from the published articles of my friend Mr. Knox, of New 
York, who, it will be remembered, accompanied us in 1866. 

In 1865, Major Abasa, a very cultivated and energetic, 
Russian gentleman, who had travelled much, especially in 
the United States, was appointed chief of the Asiatic ex- 
plorations proposed to be made by our company. On the 
8th August of the same year, that gentleman, in compan}- 
with. Messrs. Kennon, Mahood and Bush, arrived at Petro- 
paulovski on the brig " Ochotsk," from San Francisco, our 
head-quarters. The two latter explorers were immediately 
dispatched by sea to the Amoor River, while the major, 
Mr. Kennon, and a third employe of the expedition, made 
their preparations for an early start — their destination being 
Ghijega (Ghijinsk on old maps), at the head of the Ochotsk 
Sea. This they proposed to reach by land, via Kamchatka. 

Travels in Kamchatka. 287 

Major Abasa and his companions left Petropaulovski on 
the 25th of August — a month which in Kamchatka is often 
extremely warm, and when there is no snow whatever on 
the lowlands. They followed the eastern shore of the pen- 
insula till, at the village of Sharon, they reached the Kam- 
chatka River — a tortuous stream of no great size, which has 
been already mentioned in connection with the narrative 
of Behring's life. Their route so far was principally over 
undulating plains, covered by much moss, grass, and under- 
brush, but with a limited amount of poorly-grown timber. 
It is one of the peculiarities of Kamchatka that the. forests 
get thicker and the trees larger the further north you pro- 
ceed. It is, moreover, constantly stated', and apparently be- 
lieved also by the foreign residents in the country, that the 
soil is warmed by the volcanic fires beneath, and that the 
cultivation of grain in the brief summer is thereby rendered 
impracticable, as it sprouts before its time. It is known 
that in winter the snow in places sometimes melts where it 
is in contact with the earth, while a foot' or so above it 
there is the usual wintry covering. This snow, undermined, 
as it were, frequently tumbles in when travellers are pass- 
ing over it, and they "find their level" a little lower than 
they expected. 

After following for a short distance the Kamchatka Riv- 
er, the party turned westward, to cross a much more rugged 
country, in order to reach the village of Tigil, on the coast 
of the Ochotsk Sea. Here they met with many difficulties. 
The route was an alternation of rocks and swamps, with 
much rotten snow overlying them, and even the sure-footed 
little Siberian pack-horses,which were well loaded with the 
personal effects, etc., of the party, were constantly in trouble. 
Now they were stuck in sloughs of unknown depth, now 
they were half carried away by the swift mountain-streams 
they were attempting to ford, and now and again they came 

288 Tkavels'in Kamchatka. 

down on their knees or haunches when attempting to clam- 
ber over the slippery rocks. But at length they reached 
Tigil, which, by the route they had travelled/ was 1200 
versts (800 miles). 

From Tigil, Major Abasa wrote to the " Ispravnik " 
(Civil Governor) of Ghijega, notifying him that he was on 
the way, and asking him to issue orders to the inhabitants 
under his jurisdiction to render every assistance. The let- 
ter was sent to Sessnoi, the last Kamchatdale village on the 
route, and from there passed from one tribe of Koriaks to an- 
other, until it reached its destination. Abasa had taken the 
precaution to send on word that he would " remember " any 
natives who had facilitated the delivery of his message, and 
the letter therefore reached Ghijega very quickly. The 
Ispravnik immediately issued the necessary orders. 

From Tigil to Sessnoi the party travelled by or near the 
sea-coast, and reached the latter place successfully. North 
of Sessnoi the route was known to be extremely difficult; 
they therefore divided their forces, the major and one of his 
men (with natives) proceeding in a whale-boat and skin 
canoe by sea, while Kennon attempted to take the pack- 
train, etc., across the mountainous coast. They, however, 
were unfortunate at this part of the trip ; the party on the 
sea experienced bad weather, while Kennon found the late- 
ly-fallen snow too soft and deep for his horses. They there- 
fore returned to Sessnoi, to wait till the season became a 
little more advanced, and employed their time in purchasing 
dogs from the natives, and in the manufacture of sledges, 
etc. They found great difficulty in inducing the Kam- 
chatdales to part with their dogs. A sum of 200 silver 
roubles (over £30) for a team of ten dogs was often refused. 

While in Sessnoi, Major Abasa had some very interest- 
ing interviews with chiefs of the Koriak and Tchuktchi 
tribes. It was the period of their annual migration south- 

Sessnoi. 289 

ward, when they go to hunt the sable on the plains and in 
the mountains of Kamchatka. In January they gather 
around Tigil, to exchange 'their furs for tea, sugar, coffee, 
powder, lead, etc. Bad weather detained the party in Sess- 
noi, and, by a judicious distribution of presents, they suc- 
ceeded in making them communicative. They advised the 
major, in proceeding from Sessnoi, not to follow the sea-coast, 
but to incline to the eastward and pass through a country 
comparatively little known to the whites. Every thing being 
ready, the party left Sessnoi on the 20th of October, passing 
over the mountains, and finding a very bad road. Four 
days later they reached Bodkaguernaya, having found the 
temperature at night from forty to forty-five degrees below 
zero. North of Bodkaguernaya the mountains gradually 
diminished, and the country was found to be en . up into 
plains covered with moss, and ridges on which there was a 
growth of low bushes that sometimes attained to the dignity 
of small trees. Viewed from an elevation, the whole region 
had a \ery desolate appearance. The country was found 
to be inhabited by the Koriaks, some of the tribes wander- 
ing from place to place, and the others remaining in fixed 
localities. The wandering Koriaks were kind, hospitable, 
and peaceable, but the settled Koriaks were the reverse. A 
stronger and more efficacious representation of the Eussian 
Government was needed among them. The Koriak coun- 
try and the Ghijega and Anadyr districts are all supposed to 
be under the direction of the Ispravnik at Ghijega, who has 
only twenty-five Cossacks under him, and neither time nor 
ability to visit a hundredth part of his immense territory. 

Major Abasa exchanged his dogs for reindeer at the 
first Koriak camp, a hundred versts from Bodkaguernaya, 
and travelled with the latter animals to Kammenoi, where 
the party arrived on the 16th of November. The major 
wished to go to Anadyrsk from this place, but the natives 


290 Ghijega. 

refused to take him there; they were willing to go to 
Ghijega, and in fact had received orders from the ispravnik 
to go there if the party desired it. The Kussian traders 
were at Kammenoi, on their way to the coast of Behring 
Sea, and the Koriaks were anxious to accompany them, 
but were ordered not to do so until after Major Abasa had 
proceeded on his way. They at length, after a harassing 
journey, reached Ghijega on the 22d of November, where 
the major established permanent quarters. He had thus 
traversed the whole peninsula of Kamchatka. 

This insignificant village of two or three hundred people 
has a little more importance than its size would lead us to 
believe. It is, first, the seat of local government ; it is, 
next, a centre with regard to the fur- trade of the district ; 
and it is, lastly, the only place for several hundred miles 
round, where the poor Eussian settler, or semi-civilized 
Kamchatdale, can get any tea, sugar, or vodka (whisky). 
As vodka is occasionally to be got there, it need not be 
stated that a venerable "pope" (priest) of the Greek 
Church stops there permanently. 

Ghijega is situated on the river of the same name, about 
eight miles from the coast of Ghijinsk Gulf, an arm of the 
Ochotsk Sea. Mr. Knox does not describe it as a terres- 
trial paradise. Speaking of his visit in the summer of 
1866, he says, "The flat plains or tundras were covered 
with water in many concealed and unconcealed holes. 
Every little bunch of moss was like a well-filled sponge. 
I returned from a pedestrian excursion with my top-boots 
as thoroughly soaked as if they had been used for water- 
buckets. There was not a wheeled vehicle of any kind, 
and there were but three horses for fifty miles. There was 
no steam-boat on the river, and balloons had not been in- 

Major Abasa, having dispatched Kennon and Dodd to 

Ghijega to Ochotsk. 291 

Anadyrsk, to meet and co-operate with M'Crea, turned 
his attention to the but-little-known country lying between 
Ghijega and the town of Ochotsk. In winter the inter- 
course between Ghijega and Ochotsk is quite limited. The 
yearly mails, and a dozen sledges with goods for a few 
Russian traders, are the only passengers over this distance, 
and there is, consequently, no regular road — travellers fol- 
lowing no track, but going in certain directions, guided by 
the position of the mountain-streams and forests. Some- 
times snow-storms and fogs conceal the signs which guide 
the traveller, and force him to remain stationary for days, 
and even for weeks at a time. No means have been taken 
by the inhabitants to make the road practicable. They 
themselves know very little of the country within forty 
or fifty miles of their homes. The settled population of 
the few villages along the coast consists of a mixture of 
Russians, Koriaks, and Yakutz. There is a floating pop- 
ulation, known as Tunguse, who wander through the 
mountain and forest regions from Kolyma nearly down to 
the Amoor. These tribes rarely use sledges, but perform 
their migration on the backs of reindeer, of which they 
have not a very large number, barely sufficient for their 
necessities. The Koriaks are much more wealthy, some 
of them owning from one to two thousand deer. 

The Tunguse have therefore been unwilling to let the 
Russians know the best routes through the country, and 
have maintained secret paths of their own. Major Abasa 
did not find them badly disposed toward the telegraph en- 
terprise, but fearful that it might impair the value of their 
hunting-grounds. He succeeded in establishing friendly 
relations with them, and convinced them that the damage 
in that respect would be more than made' good by the sup- 
plies they would be enabled to obtain by the establishment 
of the company's forts among them. Their indolence and 

292 Arrival of Mahood and Bush. 

carelessness operated only in a negative manner, in pre- 
venting them from being actively useful in building the 

On the 22d of February (1866), Mahood and Bush, who 
it will be remembered had been dispatched to the Amoor 
River, arrived in Ochotsk from Nicolaiefski.* The com- 
mander of the sea -coast provinces of Eastern Siberia, 
(Governor Fulyhelm) had given them all the assistance in 
his power, but the route from the Amoor northward had 
been one of the most rugged character. Captain Mahood, 
moreover, struck out a new and more direct line for him- 
self than that usually followed by the Kussians, having in 
view the requirements of the telegraph service. 

Governor Fulyhelm" sent to the Tunguse, a hundred 
versts to the northward, ordering them to procure reindeer 
for Captain Mahood's expedition. Those were to be for- 
warded to Orelle Lake, north .of the Amoor, and to this 
point the party proceeded when all preparations were com- 
pleted. There they found the Tunguse, who were await- 
ing them with twenty deer. After a little delay in arrang 

* Nicolaiefski, a town of very modern growth, is at the mouth of the 
Amoor, a river with which, thanks to the published travels of Atkinson and 
others, we are somewhat familiar. " It is," says Mr. Knox, " emphatically 
a government town, three-fourths of the inhabitants being directly or in- 
directly in the service of the Emperor. It has a ' port,' or naval establish- 
ment, containing dock-yards, machine-shops, founderies, and all the odds 
and ends of sheds, warehouses, and factories necessary to the functions of a 
naval station. " ' ' All the houses in the town are of wood, .... the great 
majority are of logs, either rough or hewn." " Going back from the river, 
the streets begin grandly, and promise a great deal that they do not per- 
form. For one or two squares they are all good, the third square is passa- 
ble, the fourth is full of stumps, and when you reach the fifth and sixth, 
there is little street to be found. I never saw a better illustration of the 
road that commenced with a double row of shade-trees (a la boulevard), and 
steadily diminished in character until it became a squirrel-track and ran up 
a tree." — Harper's Magazine (New York), August, 1868. 

There are now a large number of steamers on the Amoor. The season 
when the river is open is limited to about half the year. 

Keindeer-Kiding. 293 

ing the loads, the expedition started ; each of the men 
riding a deer, while twelve of the animals were required to 
carry the baggage and provisions. The saddle for a rein- 
deer is placed on the animal's withers, the back not being 
strong enough to sustain the weight of a man. .The saddle 
is a mere pad, and has no stirrups, so that it requires con- 
stant care to retain one's balance — a novice in this kind 
of travelling being sure to get many tumbles before he 
learns to manage his new beast of burden. The deer is 
guided by a halter and a single line. One is required to 
exercise considerable dexterity to mount a reindeer with- 
out the assistance of stirrups. A staff is always used to 
assist one in mounting. The pack-saddle is placed on the 
shoulders of the animal, and the reindeer will carry a load 
of from seventy-five to one hundred pounds in this way. 
A Tunguse ride's one deer, and leads a pack-train of four to 
a dozen animals, the halter of each deer being fastened to 
the one that precedes him. 

Between the Amoor and the Ochotsk there is not, nor 
has there ever been, any kind of a road; but the guides 
and travellers follow whatever route they think proper, 
always keeping their general course in view. The rein- 
deer go through the forest, over hills and along wide 
stretches of barren land: The rivers are forded where 
shallow, and when too deep for this, rafts are built for men 
and baggage, while the deer are forced to swim over. In 
winter the ice affords a secure foothold, and, for this reason, 
travelling is much better in the cold season than in sum- 
mer. Keindeer food grows on most parts of the route ; so 
that, in summer or winter, it is only necessary to turn them 
out at night, and they will be found well fed in the morn- 

Captain Mahood's journal makes frequent mention of 
crossing rivers, climbing over mountains, and traversing 

294 M'Crea and Arnold's 

forests and tundra, or long stretches of barren land. Several 
times he was delayed by being unable to procure a suffi- 
cient number of deer for his purposes, some having " given 
out," and the term for which others were employed having 
expired. Sometimes guides were lacking, and it was nec- 
essary to send a considerable distance to obtain them. 

At Ayan it was found that the Russian American Com* 
pany, which formerly maintained a post there, had depart- 
ed, having given up all business on this coast. The agent 
of the company still remained, with a single clerk, both of 
whom, with the officials, were ready to lend all assistance. 
The former sent at once to the " sartost " of Nelkan, order- 
ing him to have deer and men ready to assist the party on 
its way to Ochotsk, where they at length arrived, as above 

Ochotsk is a place of which the glory has somewhat de- 
parted, owing principally to the establishment of the newer 
town of ISTicolaiefski. It is said to have about 500 inhab- 
itants — if you count the dogs, who outnumber the human 
part of the population. Its most interesting associations 
are those connected with the narrative of Behring's voy- 

The third and last journey undertaken in our service 
which I am enabled to record, is that made in 1865-6, by 
Messrs. M'Crea and Arnold, from the mouth of the Anadyr 
River to Anadyrsk and Ghijega. Some brief mention has 
been already made of the camp established at the Anadyr 
by the former gentleman. 

After M'Crea and his party had erected temporary 
quarters at the mouth of the Anadyr, they began imme- 
diately to prepare for their exploration. About the 1st of 
November there was sufficient snow for sledging. Captain 
M'Crea hoped to set out soon after, and attempted to pur- 
chase reindeer for that purpose. The Tchuktchis have a 

Wanderings among the Tchuktchis. 295 

superstition about selling live reindeer, though they have 
no hesitation about killing them and selling their carcasses. 
Captain M'Crea was at first unable to purchase deer, but 
finally negotiated with one of the native chiefs for trans- 
portation to Anadyrsk by way of the Tchuktchi villages 
south of Anadyr Bay. After some delay, this personage 
took Captain M'Crea and Lieutenant Arnold to the great 
Deer Chief, who invited these gentlemen to join the 
Tchuktchis in a winter excursion to Anadyrsk. As there 
was no other way to make the journey, they accepted the 
proposition, and, after some delay, moved away. The 
progress was slow — about eight miles a day — the Tchuk- 
tchis having no particular appreciation of time, and not un- 
derstanding how any one can ever be in a hurry. The 
journey occupied forty-two days, in addition to twenty -two 
consumed in reaching the Deer Chief's camp ; making six- 
ty-four days that M'Crea and Arnold passed among the 
Tchuktchis. They were kindly treated, though the accom- 
modations were not of the finest character, and the cuisine 
was not suited to civilized tastes. Added to the slow mode 
of travelling, the route was very circuitous, and thus the 
journey was made longer than it would otherwise have 

There are two large villages, about twenty versts apart, 
and three smaller ones in the neighborhood, all known by 
the name of Anadyrsk ; the former being designated the 
Crepass (fortress), and the second, farther up the river, the 
Markavo. When Captain M'Crea reached the Markavo, 
he found there the other members of his party, who had 
been brought up from the mouth of the river by the direct 

From there M'Crea and Arnold proceeded to Ghijega. 
Above the Markova the Anadyr is well wooded. 

It will be remembered that Kennon and Dodd left 

296 Anadyksk. 

Grhijega for Anadyrsk ; and it was on this trip that the 
former discovered a river named the Myan, which, rising 
in the mountains near the Penjinsk Eiver, eventually forms 
one of the principal tributaries of the Anadyr. Mr. Bush, 
as before mentioned (p. 144), who also travelled from Ghi- 
jega to the mouth of the Anadyr, was enabled to make a 
longer direct journey than any others of our explorers — 
that from Nicolaiefski to Anadyr Bay. Later, in. 1866-7, 
many of the gentlemen just mentioned, with others, went 
over various parts of the same country, but their journeys 
were made more with reference to the business of the com- 
pany, the transportation of goods, etc., than with a view to 

I have simply recorded the outlines of these Asiatic 
journeys : it is for those engaged in them to give us a 
fuller narrative, or narratives, and I trust that some of them 
may yet do so* 

California of To-Day. 297 



California in 1849. — To-day. — Agricultural Progress. — Wine Manufacture. 
— Climate. — Lower California. — San Francisco. — No Paper-money. — 
Coinage. — Growth. — General Prosperity. — Scarcity of Labor. — Hiring 
aDomestic. — Luxuries of the Land. — " The Mission." — Hotel Carte. — 
Home for the Inebriates. — Immigration desired. — Newspapers. — Chinese 
Population. — " John's " Status. — John as a Miner. — Dead Chinamen. — 
Celestial Entertainment. — Merchant's Pigtail. 

Twenty years ago, California, one of the richest and 
most fertile countries of the globe, was lying absolutely 
unheeded, with but a few indolent Spanish settlers, and a 
still smaller number of Americans, scattered at long inter- 
vals over its surface. Now it has a population of half a 
million, and the cry is " still they come." 

When the gold excitement* in 1849 broke out in full 
force, it called attention to the country ; and thousands, 
drawn there by the universal magnet, remained to become 
prosperous and permanent settlers. There are few who 
know California who do not become warmly attached to it, 
and, in the country itself, it is a well-known and oft-re- 
marked fact, that most of those who, after a lengthened 
sojourn, leave it for their old homes in other parts of the 
world, soon return to their " first love," finding no other 
like it. 

An impression prevails in England that we know all 

* It is well known that the first gold discovery of importance was made 
in 1848 by Marshall, a man in the employ of Captain Sutter, a Swiss, who 
first settled there in 1839. But Californians usually date the rise of the 
country from 1849. 

'298 Wheat-G-kowing — Wine Manufacture. 

about this happy land, because, in its early history, book 
after book issued from the press, telling of the gold, of the 
restless spirits who gathered from all points in its search, 
of the lawlessness that prevailed, and of the unheard-of 
prices of the necessaries of life. Some there were, too, who 
told us of the natural wonders of the country of the gey- 
sers, of the grand Yosemite Valley, and the " big trees " of 
Calaveras and of Mariposa. All admitted it was a fruitful 
land, but we then heard little or nothing of the chances of 
its ever becoming a grand field for agriculture. 

Yet, although at the present time, gold, silver, mercury, 
and coal all yield abundant returns, they are eclipsed by 
the more solid progress of the country in the cultivation 
of the soil. So much grain is raised, that not merely does 
it help to supply Europe, but it is forwarded even to the 
" Eastern " or Atlantic States, often vid that expensive 
route the Isthmus of Panama. In the state statistics for 
1866, the amount of wheat* grown is set down at 14,000,000 
bushels, and of barley nearly as much. The wine manufac- 
ture is fast becoming a leading branch of industry : over 
3,000,000 gallons is now the annual produce of California, 
and the quantity will largely increase. The culture of the 
vine and the art of wine-making are, of course, in their in- 
fancy in a country itself so young ; but some of the wines 
would compare favorably with French and German pro- 
ductions, although Californians are said to prefer sending 
their wines to Boston and New York, and drinking foreign 
wines themselves ! This is, to an extent, true of San Fran- 
cisco, but not of the people of the wine districts, who evi- 
dently thrive on their own produce. Many kinds are 
made — white, red, and sparkling. The manufacture of 

* "In California one seeding and one cultivation suffice for two crops. 
The (' volunteer') crop of the second year is, perhaps, one-fifth less in quan- 
tity, but it is all profit." — Overland Monthly, San Francisco, August, 1868. 

Climate — Growth of the City. 299 

grape brandy has also been commenced on a large scale. 
Raisins, figs, prunes, peaches, and apples are now dried in 
quantities. The climate of California is such that the most 
tender varieties of European grapes, with the olive, orange, 
and almond, will ripen in the open air. In Lower Califor- 
nia, where there is almost a tropical climate, the culture of 
coffee, cocoa, palms, and bananas has been attempted suc- 
cessfully. In that part of the country — as yet very thinly 
settled — the inhabitants are said, but not on the best au- 
thority, to read the morning papers (when they get them !) 
up to their necks in water — where they are lucky enough 
to find any. Towels are an unnecessary luxury, the heat 
of the sun causing immediate evaporation. If you hang 
up a string of candles, in a few hours the grease runs off 
them, and there is nothing left but the wicks, and they are 
always, therefore, kept in ice till required. Droughts are 
common, and whisky is said to be cheaper than water, 
which, if true, may account for some of the other state- 
ments ! 

The writer has from 1862-7, inclusive, repeatedly revis- 
ited San Francisco, finding each time marked and rapid 
changes. The once disorderly village of shanties and tents 
is now an orderly city of 140,000 souls. Its best streets are 
almost Parisian, its public buildings would be a credit to 
any city, and its hotels are better kept and furnished than 
those of New York, and that is saying much. A sea wall 
and docks, both long needed, are now in course of con- 

The State of California has steadily resisted the intro- 
duction of a " greenback " currency, or " shin -plasters," as 
they are irreverently called ; and those who attempt to 
pay their debts in this paper-money at its nominal value 
are advertised in all the papers of the country. There is 
still no money in circulation under a ten-cent piece, or 

300 Coinage — Population. 

" bit," as it is termed, while Californians can boast the 
handsomest gold coin in the world in their twenty-dollar 
piece. In the early days there was a still larger coin, one 
worth over £10 sterling, a fifty-dollar piece, an octagonal 
"slug" of gold, not unlike a Japanese coin. They were 
made so carelessly that they frequently contained a dollar 
or two in gold above their supposed value. The Jews 
used to file and "sweat" them till they were hot worth 
forty dollars; their coinage was in consequence discon- 

The only city of the United States outside of New York 
which can compare with San Francisco in rapid increase 
of population is Chicago, in Illinois. San Francisco is as 
much the centre of American interests on the Pacific, as is 
New York of those on the Atlantic ; and her present pop- 
ulation is as great as was that of the latter city in 1820, two 
hundred years after her first settlement. 

If it were possible to galvanize the Mexican ports of 
that coast into life, or if Victoria, Yancouver Island, had a 
good country round or near it, San Francisco might have a 
successful rival ; as it is, she stands alone, and must be the 
commercial emporium of the coast. Again Fr'isco (as her 
citizens often lovingly call her) is the terminal point of 
that great enterprise the Pacific Eailway, and by 1870, in 
all probability, the Chinese, Japanese, and Oriental trade 
for the States, and some of that for Europe, will pass 
through her. A line of splendid steamers is even now run- 
ning from San Francisco to China and Japan. 

The general prosperity of the people is very apparent. 
Where else in the world do you find the laborer on the 
docks, or the advertising " medium "' walking with his 
boards d la sandwich, jauntily smoking a .ten-cent cigar ? 
Where else do you find no beggars dogging you in every 
street, and no crossing-sweeper bothering you at every cor- 

Prosperity — Female Labor. 301 

ner? Mendicity is not defendue, it does not exist ! There 
was certainly the "Emperor Norton," a kind of half-witted 
fellow, clothed in regimentals, who issued pompous procla- 
mations, and subsisted by levying black-mail on those who 
were amused by his fooleries, or on the " free lunches " of 
the bar-rooms. There was certainly a huge Mexican fe- 
male eternally smoking cigarettos or munching fruit the 
while she extended one hand for .alms; but beggary of 
that painful kind, which is so largely developed in every 
old country, is not known there. Except in the sailors' 
quarters, in the lower part of the town, no fallen women 
accost or molest the passing stranger; there are many of 
them, indeed, as elsewhere, but they are not reduced to 
that depth of degradation. Servant-girls still get their 
twenty-five dollars a month, and usually "engage" their 
mistresses ! The laborer on a farm, or " ranch," as it is 
invariably called, gets his thirty dollars, and is "found" 
in board and lodging ; the skilled mechanic averages four 
.dollars a day. 

Indeed, so scarce is female labor as yet, that I believe 
the following anecdote — taken from a California newspaper 
— may be regarded as true : 

" A well-to-do citizen of San Francisco, happening to be 
short of servant-girls, was requested by his wife to call on a 
young lady who had expressed her willingness to engage, 
for a consideration, to spend a portion of her time in the 
residence of some highly respectable family, ' references ex- 
changed,' etc. He called on the interesting female, and 
found her all his fancy painted her, and more, too ; in fact, 
a master-piece of the milliners', hair-dressers', jewellers',, 
painters', plasterers', and chemists' art, and as airy as a red- 
wood palace, with cloth and papered walls, on Telegraph 
Hill. A few minutes' conversation satisfied him that he- 
had opened the negotiation on a wrong basis, and in fact 

302 • Hiring a Domestic. 

he was the party to be engaged, not the high-toned lad}' 
before him who answered no questions at all, and question- 
ed him with all the nonchalance of a practiced horse-buy- 
er cheapening a three-legged nag at a Government sale. 
The interview closed as follows : 
" 'Female. Where do you live?' 
" ' Citizen. Well, out pretty near the Mission Dolores.'* 
" ' Female (with a doubtful shake of her head). That is 
a long way from Montgomery Street ; almost too far, I am 
afraid ! How many children have you in the family?' 
" ' Citizen (modestly). We have four, madam.' 
" ' Female. Four ! That is a great deal too many.' 
" ' Citizen (abashed and humbled, taking his hat in his 
hand, nervously). Well, madam, do you think you could 
get along with two or three children?' 

"'Female. I suppose I might, but you say you have 
four. 1 

" ' Citizen (edging toward the door). Yes, madam, I did 
say four, but rather than give you offense and risk a failure 
of the negotiation, I did not know but my wife might be 
prevailed on to droivn one or two of them /' 

" With a look of insulted dignity the female rose and 
waved her hand, as much as to say, 'You won't do ! Get 
from my sight !' and the citizen went out of her presence, 

* This is the quarter round the old Mission San Francisco, erected in 
1775-6 by the Spaniards, and which is repeatedly mentioned by all the old 
writers on the coast — Vancouver, Humboldt, Wilkes, Beechey, Forbes, etc. 
The old church still exists, and a quantity of Spanish MSS. and old books 
are to be found there. It is about two miles from the heart of San Fran- 
cisco, but now forms an integral part of it. There are horse and steam 
" cars " running out to it, as to every other part of the city. Amusing 
stories are told of the Mission's early days, when the Indians would only 
keep working in the manufacture of adobes (sun-dried bricks) so long as tbe 
good fathers kept singing to them. As late as 1840, large boilers were to 
be seen, in which oxen were sometimes boiled whole (I had almost said " in 
one joint !") for the Indians' consumption. — See Hutchings's "Scenes, etc., 
in California." 

Immigration Desired. 303 

feeling, as he avows, at least a thousand per cent, meaner 
and more contemptible, in his own opinion, than he had 
ever felt or had cause to feel before. He says he is entirely 
satisfied with his experience in the line of hiring serv- 
ant-girls, and don't want to try his hand at the business 

Even if the above is not true in fact, it is in spirit. Let 
those who expect to get domestics on the same easy terms 
as at home, or to make them " keep their place " with def- 
erential awe, stay where they are. So rare are female 
servants that a Chinaman or two forms a part of every 
large household in city or country. Those who are lucky, 
get an Irish " Biddy " or Kathleen, may be, but it is very 
rare indeed to find a native American in any menial em- 
ployment whatever. 

A tide of immigration is much needed and desired by 
Californians ; the want of labor often seriously impedes the 
progress of the country. The man who now goes there 
with a little cash in hand may soon become a prosperous 
land-owner himself. He will go to a country whose cli- 
mate is that of Italy, or the South of France, whose com- 
mon productions are the luxuries of other lands. The 
writer can not name edibles more abundant in their season 
in the San Francisco market than salmon, venison, turtles, 
peaches, and grapes — things the very idea of which makes 
an epicure's mouth water. The first is generally retailed 
at eight or ten cents a pound, and the last are often sold 
five pounds for twenty-five cents (about a shilling). But 
if these are not good enough, a " royal " dish, the sturgeon, 
is to be had by any one who likes that rather tough and 
indifferent diet. 

The carte at a first-class San Francisco hotel contains, 
in one harmonious whole, the delicacies of London, Paris, 
New York, and — New Orleans. The verdant foreigner 

304- "Home for the Inebriates." 

can — till dyspepsia brings him back to sanity and plain 
living — revel in waffles, buckwheat and flannel cakes, fried 
and boiled mush, hominy, corn-bread, French and Spanish 
omelets, the national fish-ball, gumbo-soup, terrapin-stews, 
clam and codfish chowders, potato-salad, sweet potatoes, 
oyster-plants, green-corn, elk-meat, California quails, squash- 
pie, floating-island, ice-creams, and rose-candy (candies and 
sweetmeats often figure in the dessert of a dinner bill of 
fare). The price of board and lodging at such houses is 
two and a half to three dollars a day (or, by the month, 
about fifty-five to sixty dollars). This is one-third lower 
than the New York charges. There are no extras (wines, 
etc., of course excepted). Servants are never charged, nor — 
excepting for special services — do they expect payment. 
Indeed, if you offered a San Francisco waiter any remunera- 
tion (at the European standard), he would probably punch 
your head, or leave you to wait on yourself. He would, 
however, readily "take a drink" with you. 

Although San Francisco is full of bar-rooms, " saloons," 
and Dutch lager bier cellars (the German family are all 
called Dutchmen in San Francisco, and the same title is 
given usually to Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes — I have 
even known a Switzer called a Dutchman !), there is little 
drunkenness to be observed. This is doubtless partly due 
to the prevailing American style of drinking — " small doses 
— and often !" There is one institution in the city — which 
is, I believe, peculiar to it — the " Home for the Inebri- 

It is what its name implies — a temporary hospital for 
violent or incapable drunkards, or for those who are the 
victims of delirium tremens. We have, or had, an asylum 
for " homeless dogs," but we are not quite so lenient to our 

San Francisco has eight daily papers and a dozen week- 

Newspapeks — "John Chinaman." 305 

lies.* One of these contains a new feature: " Divorces" are 
inserted in the column with " Births, Marriages," etc., and 
it reads, "Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths!" In 
point of fact, the new heading is well supported ! A Fe- 
nian paper, said to be printed in green ink, the writer was 
never able to discover. 

The Chinese population is a great feature of this country, 
and is said to be 60,000 strong. " John Chinaman " you 
find everywhere; he is house-servant, cook, farm laborer, 
miner, even railway " navvy."f He does most of the 
laundry business, and it is a curious and rather unpleasant 
sight to witness him ironing out clothes, with a great open 
pan of hot charcoal, and sprinkling them by rilling his 
mouth with water, and squirting it over them in a fine 
spray through his clenched teeth. Their signs, Gee Wo, 
Hop Chang, or Cum Sing (actual names), are seen on every 
secondary street. And very strong-smelling is the special 
Chinese quarter, with its curious little shops, eating-houses, 
and laundries, where nine persons out of ten you meet are 
from the " Flowery Land," and wandering in which, you 

* The Alta California, The Bulletin, and The Sacramento Union are pa- 
pers of a very superior class, and are much ahead of the New York and 
Boston journals in paper and type. A new magazine, The Overland Month- 
ly, very similar in appearance to The Atlantic Monthly, has just (July, 1868) 
reached England. It has commenced its existence with much spirit. 

f Several thousands are now employed in building the Pacific Railroad. 
A late number of the San Francisco Bulletin says : " As a tunnel-cutter, he 
was especially invaluable. During the progress of the great ' Summit ' 
tunnel (through the Sierra Nevada Mountains) there was a strike in some 
of the Nevada mines, and a number of Cornishmen came up to work for the 
company. But it was found that the Chinamen could do considerably 
more work and. stand the fatigue and foul air of under-ground work much 
better. The Cornishmen tried it a while, but concluded to leave the work 
of boring through granite mountains to the more adaptable Celestial, and 
went away in disgust." 

Three hundred are engaged at the "Mission" Wool-mills in San Fran- 
cisco, in the manufacture of cloths, flannels, and blankets from Californian 


306 "John" as a Servant. 

might imagine that you had lost yourself in Canton or 

These gentry have several "joss houses" and two the- 
atres, where the performances are of an interminable na- 
ture, as they take the reign of an emperor, and play it 
through in detail night after night. Their gambling-houses 
are numerous, and their attractions are enhanced by (Chi- 
nese) wine, women, and opium. The police have some 
trouble with these establishments, from brawls not of a 
" celestial " nature. It is said that opium-smoking is more 
general among them here than even in their own land; 
the facilities for obtaining it are probably greater, and, like 
many a better man, " John " is cut off from his own kindred, 
and is more dependent on his own resources to while away 
his leisure hours. 

The larger part of the poor Chinese in California have 
been " imported " by some five or six companies composed 
of their wealthier countrymen, and it is a well-known fact 
that for a long time after their arrival they are in a species 
of bondage ; paying off, in fact, their passage-money, etc. 

A tax of four dollars a head per month is imposed by 
the state on every Chinaman, and, though he forms an un- 
doubtedly useful part of the population, it can not be said 
that he has a very pleasant time in California. The " poor 
white man " looks on him as an interloper, who lowers the 
price of wages, and is consequently deserving of the worst 
forms of persecution ; the " dead broke " or " busted " gam- 
bler in the mines comes round with a bundle of papers and 
aninkhorn, collecting from his unsuspecting victim a "tax" 
on his own account, to enable him to start a monte, or faro 
bank, once more ; and the Indian looks on him as his right- 
ful prey, and murders him when the opportunity occurs. 
It is to be remarked that the Indians of the coast general- 
ly, as far as my experience goes, look on the negro also as 

"Celestial" Entertainment. 307 

a thoroughly inferior being to themselves. As a servant, 
"John" is certainly better than the negro; he attends to 
his business, and is not so fussy. On the new China steam- 
ship line from San Erancisco, Chinese waiters are employed 

In the mining districts "John Chinaman" is to b§ seen 
travelling through the country, carrying his traps on either 
end of a long pole in the style depicted on the tea-chests 
familiar to us from earliest childhood. In this manner he 
" packs " much larger loads than the ordinary traveller. 
The writer well remembers a Chinaman he met, carrying 
at one end of his stick a bag of rice, a pick and shovel, a 
pair of extra pantaloons, a frying-pan, and a billy-pot, while 
from the other depended a coop of fowls and chickens, of 
which "John" is devotedly fond. In this respect he is 
wiser than his betters; for while the ordinary "honest 
miner " is feeding on beans, bacon, and tea, he "has eggs and 
chickens with his rice, and is very diligent in searching 
out and utilizing wild onions, berries, and roots. In 1865 
a number of Chinamen arrived at intervals, in several ves- 
sels, in Victoria, V. L, and a few hours after landing they 
invariably found their way into the woods or on to the sea- 
beach, where they collected shell-fish and many kinds of 
sea-weed, which they stewed and fried in various shapes. 

But though " John " has no objection to live in Califor- 
nia, and often has to die there, he will not consent to be 
buried away from the " Flowery Land," and every vessel 
for Hong Kong and Shanghai takes a cargo of defunct Chi- 
namen — the wealthy ones put up in spirits or embalmed. 

Large and influential firms or companies of a better 
class of these people exist in the city, and they sometimes 
offer entertainments to " distinguished arrivals." In June, 
1866, one was held in honor of the U. S. ministers to China 
and Japan, then waiting for a vessel to convey them to 

308 Chinese "Chignons." 

their destination, and was, in Californian phraselogy, a 
"high-toned and elegant" affair. The "carte" included 
sharks' fins, birds'-nest soup, reindeer sinews, geranium and 
violet cakes, samshoo and rose wine, but was not deficient 
in the good things of our cuisine, accompanied by an un- 
limited supply of champagne. A toast to the minister to 
China concluded with a thoroughly Oriental sentiment: 
" We wish your excellency ten thousand golden pleasures, 
and a happy voyage to the Central Flowery Empire!" 

The wealthier Chinese, merchants — many of them very 
intelligent men — often wear European clothing, and their 
pigtails are then coiled up in neat chignons (I believe this 
is the correct word ?) at the back of their heads. But the 
tail is always there, and nothing would induce them to part 
with it. When their hair is n atur all S" short or scanty, fine 
black silk, and sometimes real hair, is woven into it to 
make up the deficiency. I have heard of something not 
very dissimilar in vogue recently among our countrywomen, 
but do not, of course, believe it ! 

Society in San Francisco. 309 


CALIFORNIA — continued. 

San Francisco Society. — Phraseology. — Ladies of Fr'isco. — Sunday in the 
City. — Free Criticism on Parsons. — Site. — Steep Streets. — San Fran- 
cisco Calves. — Earthquakes. — House-moving. — Fire Companies. — 
"Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express." — The three-cent Stamps— The Men of 
the Pacific. 

Society in the "Bay City," though still a little " mixed," 
to use a Californian phrase, is, taking it altogether, a much 
heartier, jollier, sincerer thing than elsewhere. Californians 
will have none of the airs of the high and mighty ; they 
call it " putting on frills," they say that sort of thing is 
" played out," and recommend such to " vamose the ranch," 
or get from their sight. Ask them how they are, and the 
answer is pat, " Oh, gay and festive," with probably the 
affirmative positive, " you bet," or may be " you bet your 
boots." If a preacher, actor, or writer indulges in an ex- 
aggerated manner, they say " he piles on the agony" too 
much, has a "spread-eagle" or " 'high -falu tin" style about 
him. The derivation of the last term is involved in mys- 
tery. Many of the common expressions are taken from 
mining operations and experiences. " It panned out well," 
means that " it gave good returns." " Show," or " color," 
from the indications of gold in gravel or sand, are words 
used in various shapes. " I have not a show," means I 
have no chance. " We have not seen the ' color ' of his 
money," means he has not paid up a farthing. " Prospect " 
— to search for gold — is used in many ways ; ask if a spec- 
ulation promises well, they may answer, " It prospects well, 

310 Califoknian Phraseology. 

if we can only make the riffle," the last an allusion to suc- 
cessfully getting over a " rapid " or " riffle " on a river. 
Or, if the thing has disappointed*, it may be, " We got down 
to the ' bed rock,' and found it a ' bilk ' " — Californian for 
a humbug. 

If one looks anxious, they say, " There's a heap of trouble 
on the old man's mind ;" and if one is got up elaborately in 
a " biled shirt " (i e., white shirt), a " stove-pipe " (or as we 
say, " chimney-pot ") hat, and a suit of new broadcloth, one 
is apt to be asked, " You've rather spread yourself, haven't 
you ?" It is common for men to shave a good deal, and 
the city is full of barbers' shops, where you can get your- 
self shaved and your boots blacked at one and the same 
time. These establishments are often luxuriously fitted 
up, and beat any thing of the kind to be seen in the " East- 
ern" States. Beards are termed " chin- whiskers," and bur 
"whiskers" are distinguished as "side-whiskers." The 
terms for most things are on a more magnificent scale than 
with us. A bar-room is invariably a " saloon," an eating- 
house, a "restaurant" (pronounced in an Anglicized man- 
ner), and a shop is a " store."- A good substantial repast 
is known as a " square " meal all over this coast, and the 
term is applied to many other things. A "square" drink 
is a " deep, deep draught," and a good " square fight" is an 
encounter or " muss " where the opponents were in earnest. 
Some of these terms are common to the "Western" States 
and outlying " territories," but can not be regarded as full- 
blooded Americanisms. They attract just as much notice 
from "Eastern" men travelling in California as they do 
from Europeans. 

Listen to a quarrel in the streets : one calls the other a 
"regular dead beat!" at which he, in return, threatens to 
" put a head on him !" whereupon the first sneeringly re- 
torts, " up a flume," the equivalent of a vulgar cockney's 

Ladies of Fk'isco. 311 

" over the left." If one or the other " weakens," or shows 
signs of " caving " in and leaving, he is said to " get up 
and dust." It is then the business of his opponent to " cor- 
ral" him in a corner — a term taken from the Spanish for 
catching and shutting up cattle in an enclosure. This last 
phrase is used in a variety of ways. A police officer " cor- 
rals " an offender, a greedy man at table " corrals " all the 
delicacies, and a broker " corrals" all the stock of a com- 
pany, and controls the market, and so on. 

But in justice to Californians, it must be stated that 
many of these phrases are — among the better classes — only 
known to be avoided. A stranger might be a long time in 
the country before he heard the whole of the above. A 
portion of them are, however, common enough. 

A San Franciscan would doubtless detect something 
equally strange in the current " slang " of London, which 
we all know to be by no means confined to the lower 
classes, but which constantly crops out in the conversation 
of young men, and even, alas ! in that of the young ladies 
" of the period." 

Although things have changed since the time when a 
miner would walk twenty miles to catch a glimpse of a 
female, and when the steamboats advertised "Four lady 
passengers to-night !" as a sure bait to travellers, they are 
still by no means at a discount, and in no place in the world 
does woman hold a higher place. Perhaps, in consequence, 
there is rather more heard and seen of her vanity, weakness, 
and extravagance. I have the best authority for stating 
that " Perhaps in no other American city would the ladies 
1 invoice ' so high per head when they go out to the opera, 
to party, or ball." But though there is a dash of " fast- 
ness " on the surface, ladies, refined, educated, and virtuous, 
are as abundant here as they are elsewhere, and the girls 
born in California will bear the palm in a country famous 

312 Sunday in the City. 

for its pretty girls, while their mothers at a given age arc 
more plump and blooming than those of the Atlantic 

Here and there, it is true, you will find some prominent 
citizen who in early days "took unto himself" his washer- 
woman, no better being then available ; and I have native 
authority for saying that the men seem of a higher grade 
than the women. Nevertheless, I am sure that a mixed 
assembly of San Franciscans would compare favorably 
with a similar one of New Yorkers, where the " shoddy " 
and "petroleum aristocracies" have rather too much sway. 
In the country districts, ladies who attend to their dairies 
and gardens in the day, and in the evening are able to de- 
light you with the best and latest music, or tell you far 
more than you know yourself of current literature, are by 
no means uncommon. 

In San Francisco Parisian fashions dominate, and any 
fine afternoon a rich display of furs is to be seen on Mont- 
gomery Street (reader, it is always on, not in, a street in this 
country), which might seem out of place in so warm a cli- 
mate, but for the fact that a cool wind blows into the city 
with periodical regularity in the latter part of the day, more 
especially in summer-time. The winter season is by some 
preferred to the summer, but the climate of San Francisco 
and its immediate neighborhood is not equal to that of Cal- 
ifornia generally. This is doubtless owing to the proximity 
of the former to the ocean. 

Sunday in this city has a decidedly foreign tinge, al- 
though there is a large church-going public. When the 
writer was first there, mock " bull-fights " and balloon as-' 
censions usually took place on the Sabbath ; brass bands 
paraded the streets, and it was a favorite day for excur- 
sions of every kind. Some of this has been a little modi- 
fied : indeed, if you took the number of churches and chap- 

Site— Dust-Hills. 313 

els, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Congregational, Uni- 
tarian, and Roman Catholic, San Francisco might be consid 
ered a very pious place indeed. The Roman Catholics, con- 
sidered as one sect, predominate : the Jews are very strong ; 
one of their synagogues is a prominent building in the city. 

The demand in San Francisco is for liberal clergymen 
of high culture, and it is indispensable that they shall have 
good powers of oratory. Judging from what I have seen, 
sect is of little consequence, and, in point of fact, you will 
meet Roman Catholics at the houses of Methodists, and 
vice versa, and mingling as the best of friends. Before leav- 
ing this subject, one point must be mentioned — the very 
free criticism the preacher gets, both in private circles and 
from the press. In an American work now lying before 

me, the writer, alluding to a Rev. Dr. , says he u is 

making his debut as pastor of one of the Presbyterian socie- 
ties, and is drawing good houses !" The only objection 
that can fairly be made to the preachers of California, and 
indeed of the whole United States, is, that they are rather 
given to mixing politics with their religion — a very curious 
fact in a country where Church has absolutely no connec- 
tion with State. 

The site of the " Golden City " was chosen rather for its 
"water front" than from any excellence in itself. It is 
" built on the sand," and this is ever before and also in 
your eyes; it is one of the dustiest places on the globe, 
though otherwise a clean, bright-looking city. In the 
suburbs you may see an enclosed, but unoccupied "lot," 
with the sand drifted up to the top bars of the fence ; and 
although the principal streets are well covered in with stone, 
wood-blocks, and asphalte, yet whenever they are taken 
up for repairs you see the true foundation of- the city. The 
main business streets are level, but the side streets and 
suburbs run up the hills at angles often of thirty degrees, 

314 Eakthquakes. 

and it is even troublesome to keep your footing on the 
wooden pavements or " side-walks." The houses seem in 
places to be holding on with difficulty, as though a storm 
or earthquake might shake them down in a general heap 
to the bottom. Nowadays, when the streets are being 
" graded," it frequently happens that the older dwellings 
are left perched up in the air on a rocky bluff fifty or a 
hundred feet above the road-way, and their owners, who 
formerly walked from it direct to their front doors, now 
have to climb a series of zigzag steps to reach them. 

This exercise has a beneficial effect on San Franciscan 
legs, and nowhere are children's calves better developed ! 
As the ladies of " Fr'isco " do not put holland trowsers on 
the legs of their pianos and dining-room tables — as it is 
said their more prudish sisters in the New England States 
are in the habit of doing — this allusion may be permitted. 
San Francisco would be an excellent place for a Pacific 
Alpine Club to train in. 

Apropos of earthquakes, San Francisco has had many a 
fright from feeble shocks, which have cracked walls and 
brought down chimneys, but have hitherto done little dam- 
age. But just as these latter sheets are going to press, the 
telegraph informs us of the occurrence (on Oct. 21st) of an 
earthquake in California of a more serious nature. I hope 
and believe that the damage stated to have been done to 
property in San Francisco will prove to have been exag- 
gerated, and that the uncertain allusions to loss of life will 
turn out to have no foundation in fact.* The recent ter- 

* Four persons were killed, and a large number were wounded. This 
earthquake was not accompanied by any unusual tidal phenomena. The esti- 
mate of property destroyed is various, ranging from $300,000 to $5,000,000. 
This destruction was almost entirely confined to the lower portion of the 
city, where the houses are built upon made ground. The ground sunk in 
several places, sometimes to the depth of four feet. — [Note by the Am. 

Earthquakes. 315 

rible earthquakes in Peru, etc., will be fresh in the minds 
of every reader. The force of the subterranean disturban- 
ces on the west coast of the American continent appears to 
diminish as it proceeds northward, though more or less 
alarming shocks are common, in point of fact, all over the 
Pacific, North and South. The writer has experienced 
such in California, Vancouver Island, and Kussian America.* 
A theory was started recently in San Francisco that these 
were simply the result of thunder-clouds rolling over the 
land ; but few could be induced to see them in that light, f 
All well-situated property in this city is held at a very 
high value, and the expense of house-keeping induces 
thousands of well-to-do people to live in the hotels, which 
are certainly equal to those of any country. But, notwith- 
standing this, the suburbs are full of cottages, villas, and 
mansions of a superior class, often surrounded by very hand- 
some grounds. As the streets improve, the older board- 

* It is well known that shocks have been felt almost simultaneously in 
California, Oregon, British Columbia, and the Sandwich Islands. In 1865, 
when one of the worst earthquakes which have frightened San Francisco 
occurred — one of the two peaks of Mount Baker (a very fine volcanic 
mountain in Washington Territory, seen from most parts of the Gulf of 
Georgia, etc.) fell in partially. Smoke and vapor rise from this mountain, 
but there is, I believe, no record of lava or ashes issuing from it. Mr. E. 
T. Coleman, of Victoria, V. I., a worthy pioneer of the Alpine Club of 
London, of which he is an original member, has twice essayed the ascent 
of Mount Baker, and although he has not yet reached its summit, I have 
no doubt he means to do it. The difficulties he encountered — dense forests, 
mountain torrents, and a lack of guides — are a fair sample of those which 
will beset all travellers in these half-developed countries. There will be al- 
most as much trouble to reach the base of a mountain as its summit. 

f A recent New York paper publishes the following telegram from 
California: — "On the 15th August (18G8), a singular tidal phenomenon 
occurred off San Pedro, Southern California. A series of waves commenced 
flowing upon the coast, causing the tide to rise sixty-three or sixty-four 
feet above the ordinary high-water mark, which was followed by the falling 
of the tide an equal distance below the usual low-water mark. The rise 
and fall occurred regularly every half-hour for several hours, creating con- 
siderable alarm among the inhabitants along the coast in that vicinity." 

316 Fire Companies. 

and-shingle u frame buildings " are moved to the outskirts 
on rollers, and often on large, wide, low carts, with small 
wheels, drawn by fifteen or twenty horses. Sometimes the 
family continues to occupy it as usual, and you see the 
smoke issuing from the "stove-pipe," or chimney, as it 
travels through the streets. The furniture and carpets re- 
main " as they were," and are carried bodily with the house. 
A travelling hawker's caravan creates more notice here in 
England than this " house-moving " does in San Francisco ; 
it is a common occurrence in all Western and Pacific towns. 
A house is often deposited at the corner, or in the middle 
of a street, for the night. 

The "firemen" of San Francisco were long one of its 
most interesting and worthy features, and their brightly- 
painted, brass and silver mounted 'steam and other fire-en- 
gines and apparatus, rivalled the best that were to be seen 
in other American cities. The earlier buildings were all 
of wood, and even now in the suburbs are commonly of the 
same material. Fires of a terrible nature have devastated 
the city ; it was, in its young days, three times almost de- 

It is obvious that the "fire companies" were then insti- 
tutions of no common value ; .they numbered in their palmy 
days three parts of the best citizens of the place — all vol- 
unteers. There were "crack" companies too, to which 
it was an honor to belong, while the "chief engineer" of 
the city was a very distinguished individual. But as San 
Francisco increased in size, these rather deteriorated in 
quality, and the " rowdy" element became rampant. In con- 
sequence, it was not uncommon for several rival fire com- 
panies to meet and fight at the corner of a street or before 
the fire, sometimes using revolvers and knives, while the 
conflagration itself remained unchecked, and it became ob- 
vious that some other arrangement must be made. There 

Wells, Fakgo & Co.'s Expkess. 317 

is now a regularly organized and paid Fire Department, 
which works in a satisfactory manner. It is an occurrence 
of every week, and frequently of every day, to hear the 
'fire-bells tolling suddenly. The quarter of the town in 
which the fire exists is indicated by the number of the 

One of the prominent "institutions" of California, as 
of the whole coast, and in a lesser degree of the whole 
United States, is certainly the famous Wells, Fargo k Co.'s 
Express. An American writer before quoted* says truly, 
" a billiard saloon, a restaurant, and a Wells, Fargo & Co.'s 
office, are the first three elements of a Pacific Coast mining- 
town." They forward goods everywhere, convey nearly 
all the " treasure " in gold or silver, do a general banking- 
business, and are infinitely more trusted by the public with 
the transmission of mail matter than the Government Post- 
office. This great firm, or corporation, has first to buy the 
Government stamp, and then add their own to the envelope 
they sell you. In 1864 they purchased this way 2,500,000 
of three-cent stamps, f and 125,000 of higher value. The 
quantity has now doubtless considerably increased. Their 
messengers, armed and wide awake, ride through the out- 
lying unsettled, and more or less lawless, districts, and are 
met on every steamer of the coast. 

From this rough sketch, it will be seen that the Pacific 

* Bowles, " Across the Continent." 

t The three-cent postage-stamp of the United States is equal to the 
penny stamp of Great Britain. Affixed to the letter, it will frank it from 
one extreme of the country to the other — from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 
We are justly proud of our cheap postage, but we have hardly attained that 
degree of cheapness — 3000 miles for three cents ! At the present time, too, 
that charge is hardly in advance of our own ; three cents — paper — is little 
more than an English penny. But there is one terrible drawback ; except- 
ing in the large Atlantic cities, letters are not delivered, but have to be 
called for. Every business man has his private pigeon-hole box at the 
Post-office, in which his letters are deposited. 

318 Men of the Pacific. 

Coast is not behind the times, and that all the elements of 
life, energy, and civilization are represented. An early 
writer on California told us that " San Francisco exhibited 
an immense amount of vitality compressed into a small 
compass," and that "people lived more there in a week 
than they would in a year in most places." This is still 
true. It is a thoroughly "live" place. But it has still 
better features. Nowhere will you find a mass of more re- 
liant, hopeful, kind-hearted, and generous men than on this 
coast: nearly all of whom have at some time "gone 
through the mill," and have come out strengthened by the 
process; and the writer, remembering the pleasant days 
spent among them, would conclude this chapter by saying, 
from the depth of his heart, and in their own language, 
" Long may they wavel" 

Early Opinions on California. 319 



Early American Opinions of the Country. — California Steamers. — The Pub- 
lic Lands. — Extent. — Price. — Labor. — Wages. — The Wine Interests. — 
Table of Temperatures. — Vineyards, etc. — Classes suitable for Immi- 
grants. — Education. — Schools. — School-ma'ams. — Investments. 

That California is a desirable country wherein to dwell, 
no one who has visited it will be disposed to doubt ; yet for 
a long period, even in America itself, it was looked upon as 
of dubious value. A writer in one of the leading San Fran- 
cisco newspapers, The Alta California, speaking of his own 
countrymen last year, said, " The greatest number of those 
who returned East (i. e., to the Atlantic States) from 1849 
to 1855 reported the state as, in the main, a barren desert, 
deluged with rain in winter, parched up with heat in sum- 
mer and autumn, and wholly unfitted by nature for the 
uses of the farmer. At that early day such opinions were 
common, and hardly to be wondered at, for the farming ca- 
pabilities of the state had scarcely been tested. Our first 
peaches came into the market in 1854, and the man at that 
time who would have ventured the prediction .that this 
state might excel any state west of the Alleghanies in fruits, 
and any country on the Continent in grapes, would have 
been rated a fool ; for, four years later, we still imported 
the great bulk of flour, meal, bacon, butter, lard, beans, etc., 
from the States* or from Chili. Not that it would not 

* The " States " and the " East " are terms which signify simply — when 
used by Californians — the Atlantic States of America. California is as 
much a state as any other ; but as large parts of its population are from 

320 Eaely Opinions on California. 

have been profitable to produce these articles here* but be- 
cause the vast majority of the people did not believe in the 
capacity of the country to produce them. Mankind are 
slow to surrender the prejudices and habits of early life; 
and if heaven itself were offered to an Esquimaux, clad in 
the waving verdure and flowery vestments which charmed 
the eye of Dante as he gazed upon it from the banks of 
Lethe, he would probably esteem it a wretched country 
without the regular complement of darkness, icebergs, and 
walrus- fat. The total absence of rain from May to Novem- 
ber, and the want of his regular treat to thunder and light- 
ning every two or three days, were things altogether 
strange to the Western farmer, whose corn, and hemp, and 
vegetables, be thought could not possibly mature without 

" And so it came to pass that California had more de- 
tractors than eulogists for the first ten years after the dis- 
covery of gold. She was regarded as a very good gold 
mine — nothing better ;" and that view of the case did not 
assist in settling the country. 

But now things are changed. When I left California 
last November (1867), there were three distinct lines of 
steamers for New York : the mail and opposition boats 

New York and the New England States, they look to them as their old 
home, and proudly call them "The States." 

There are a large number also of Western frontier men in the country 
whose lives have been spent, like that of John Brown, in "marching on." 
Born, say in Missouri, they commenced life by taking up land, clearing and 
improving it for a year or two, and then selling it ; they then moved on to 
a fresher and wilder locality, repeating the process over and over again, till 
they reached the " Farthest West " in California. But civilization has no 
charms for them, and some of them having perhaps seen more of it in a 
week in San Francisco than in their whole lives before, and become much 
disgusted thereby, have started back on the return journey across the conti- 
nent ! But such men as these will make a howling wilderness smile. They 
are the true pioneers of civilization, though they fly before it, as does the 
wild Indian before them. 

Expense op Beaching Califoknia. 321 

(via Panama), and the old opposition (via Nicaragua). In 
addition, there was the regular stage-line across the conti- 
nent, and every one was looking forward to the completion 
of the Pacific Kailroad. Yet, with all these facilities for 
travel, the united population of the States of California, 
Oregon, and Nevada, with the Territory of Washington, 
does not yet number a million souls. That number — one- 
third of the population of London — is diffused over terri- 
tories larger than those inhabited by the whole German 
family of sixty millions ! 

The expense* of reaching California is, of course, one 
great hinderance to a rapid increase of its population. The 
steam- vessels on " both sides " of the Isthmus of Panama 
are of a very superior class, and usually charge accordingly. 
It has been proposed to employ a supplementary service 
of screw-steamers for immigrants and freight. Should this 
be done, and the Panama Railroad Company reduce its ex- 
orbitant fare — twenty-five dollars (£5) for a distance of 
forty-seven miles ! — which they charge every passenger of 
whatever class — California may get the labor she so much 

. Last autumn, a number of Southerners, disgusted with 
politics, disgusted with negro supremacy in places where 
they themselves had reigned, wrote to the Mayor of San 
Francisco for information about the country ; and as the 
answers returned were printed in the Californian papers, I 
propose to clip from them a few items of general interest. 

* This varies considerably. I have known the price of passage from San 
Francisco to New York range from 75 dollars (say £15 10s.) to 300 dollars 
(£61 10s.) for first-cabin accommodation. Owing to excessive competition, 
a steerage passage has been as low as 35 dollars (£7 3s. 6d.), and at that 
rate was a loss to the company. The transit across the Isthmus of Panama 
is always included in the charges. When the Pacific Eailroad is completed, 
the steamer fares will probably be much reduced. These boats have, on 
occasions, carried 2000 passengers, and very frequently 1000 or 1500. 


322 Available Public Lands. 

The first query was this : " Are the public lands entirely 
absorbed ?" and the answer (returned by the Immigration 
Society, to whom it was referred) was as follows : 

" No. There are millions upon millions of acres yet in 
the keeping of the Federal Government officers, wljich can 
be had for one dollar an acre in gold. Only in the neigh- 
borhood of the great thoroughfares, the navigable rivers, 
the fragments of railways yet constructed, the mining-camps 
and the like, has ever the Government surveyor yet erect- 
ed his theodolite. There are plenty of good spots where 
small colonies of immigrants may squat and await for years 
the coming of the Federal Government surveyor ; and when 
he shall come, the dollar an acre demanded by the Govern- 
ment will have long before been realized out of the land. 

" In the San Joaquin Valley, sixty miles back from 
Stockton (a town of about 5000 inhabitants and one night's 
journey by steamer from San Francisco), plenty of land can 
be got' for one dollar in gold per acre from the Government 
office in Stockton. This valley is about 100 miles long, by 
a width varying from ten to thirty miles, through which 
streams navigable for flat-boats flow down to the Sacra- 
mento Eiver. The soil is deep and rich, and the bottoms 
near the water are exceedingly fertile, and able to support 
abundance of kine. This valley would absorb 100,000 

The Sacramento Valley also — especially in its upper por- 
tions near the source of the river — is a very promising 
field for the new-comer, while — 

" In the counties south of San Francisco — Monterey, for 
instance, two days' journey by stage from San Francisco — 
large tracts of the richest land, owned by easy-going people 
of Spanish descent, can be purchased or rented upon very 
advantageous terms : purchased for a dollar or two an acre, 
or rented on shares for one-fourth of the annual produce 

Lower California. 323 

of the land. The chief and greatest cost is the expense of 

" In many places the old Spanish settlers own tracts of 
thirty to fifty thousand acres, unfenced and undivided, over 
which numberless flocks of sheep and cattle roam, and 
breed, and die, without control or much care from the pro- 
prietors, who live in rude ease, and almost secluded from 
the outside world. Their slumbers will soon be broken 
by the hum of busy immigrants, who will come crowding 
by sea and land into their fruitful territories. Farther 
south, toward Los Angeles, the best lands can be purchased 
from those old-fashioned settlers for a dollar an acre, or 
even less. There is very little timber to be cleared from 
any of these lands. 

" To go upon those lands, several families should form 
themselves into villages or companies, and go out together 
on the land and he]p each other. This co-operative system 
is sure to make the immigrants happy and prosperous. 

The second prominent question related to the demand 
for labor, and the reply was so truthful, and at the same 
time so properly guarded from exaggeration, that I print it 
as it stands : 

"We are full of the great idea of inviting an extensive 
immigration from Europe, and from the Southern and 
Eastern States, to the Pacific slope, but we shudder at the 
thought of misleading any one. It is almost unnecessary 
to repeat that we have room and work for millions of peo- 
ple in our fields and mines, but the great trouble is to sup- 
port people while they are finding the work suited to their 
strength, their habits, and their experience. The idea that 
fills the minds of many persons in making toward Califor- 
nia is, that they shall go a gold-hunting in the mines, make 
lucky hits, and return at some distant day to their old 
homes in Europe or the Atlantic States to enjoy their good- 

324 Immigration. 

fortune. This idea has been the unseen rock that has 
wrecked many an immigrant to this golden land. None 
should come to the Californian mines but miners* 

" On the first discovery of gold in California, and for 
several years afterward, every kind of laborer went to the 
mines, and many of them did very well ; but of late years 
the Chinese have got in, and have swarmed over the 
' placer ' or stream mines ; and as they work in well-organ- 
ized companies, and live upon little, they are able to scrape 
a living from the oft-washed sands in the older washing- 
grounds of the earlier miners. The principal mining now 
carried on in California is quartz-mining, which, is as like 
coal or iron mining as possible — penetrating the bowels of 
the earth several hundred feet — men working in gangs, in 
' watches ' of eight hours each shift, so that the work never 
stops, night or day. For this kind of work miners get four 
dollars a day. Their board and lodging in the. neighbor- 
hood of those quartz mines comes high, about eight or ten 
dollars a week, as a general rule; two and a half days' 
wages is required to pay for a miner's board and lodging 
for a week. A great deal of the work on the Pacific Rail- 
road on our side of the Rocky Mountains is performed by 
Chinamen, under white overseers. They get about a dol- 
lar a day for their labor. "White men could get such 
wages with board, but they won't work for it. A dollar a 
day is the lowest notch which the strong man's labor has 
touched in any part of California. Common labor, accord- 
ing to skill, ranges up to one and a half and two dollars a 
day. We are not now talking of skilled mechanical labor, 
such as carpenters, brick-layers, plasterers, smiths, machin- 
ists, foundery-men, tailors, shoe-makers, and the like. The 

* A large number of Welsh and Cornish miners have — from the earliest 
days of Californian history — settled in the country, and are much esteemed 
as practical men. 

Laborers' Wages — Produce. 325 

labor of such men brings three to five dollars a day in all 
the cities and in all the towns of the Pacific coast. As to 
clerks and light porters,* and those who are always waiting 
for an easy berth or something to ' turn up,' there is little 
encouragement for them. The cities are full of them. This 
kind of helpless people are the production of an erroneous 
system of education, which has weaned the boy from labor, 
and left the man a helpless, pitiable mendicant. 

"You are, doubtless, impatient to learn, then, what sort 
of people are likely to do well here, and we answer, any 
sort who are thoroughly determined to work — men and 
women, young and old. 

" The lowest wages for labor among us is about twice 
the wages of New York, and four times the wages obtained 
in Great Britain, Ireland, or Germany. The price of wheat- 
en flour is about one-half what it is in Liverpool or New 
York — eight dollars a barrel of 196 pounds j ust now. Tea, 
sugar, and coffee about the same as in England or New 
York. Clothing and house-rent about double the English 
rates, and about the same as in New York. All the fore- 
going rates are in gold. 

" The total produce of our gold and silver mines may 
be set at fifty to sixty millions of dollars a year. Our 
farming and general agricultural products will very soon, 
if they do not now, foot up to fifty million dollars' worth a 
year. The value of the wheat and flour shipped from Cali- 
fornia since last harvest comes up to nine million dollars ; 
and as fast as good ships come into the harbor they are en- 
gaged to take out wheat and flour, wool, hides, etc. The 
general demand for all sorts of mechanics in this city and 
throughout the state was never better. The wages, as we 

* "Light porter" is a term often used in California to designate one 
who prefers an easy, half-lazy employment to more manly pursuits. It is 
not generally used in a very flattering sense. 


Wine Interests — Temperature 

have said, range, for Chinamen, one dollar a day ; common 
laborers, two dollars a day ; skilled mechanics, three to four 
dollars a day; some of superior skill, five dollars a day; 
female servants, fifteen to twenty -five dollars a month, 
and board; farm laborers, thirty dollars a month, and 

The wine interests, destined to become one of the most 
profitable pursuits, are at the present time beset by serious 
obstacles, from the high price of labor, materials, and espe- 
cially of casks ; but the climate, soil, and enterprise are 
there, and success is certain. 

There are considerable variations between the mean tem- 
peratures of places in the country (and this, of course, af- 
fects the variety of grape most in vogue in each locality ; a 
table of such temperatures is here givenf (extracted from a 
recent number of The Alta California, and including some 

* For precise and reliable information on the country, the reader is refer- 
red to Hittell's "Resources of California," and Cronise's "Natural Wealth 
of California." These works, the latter of which is a very recent production, 
are both published in San Francisco, but can be obtained in London. 

f Table of Temperatures. 




























































































fLos Angeles 











San Diego 





























San Francisco... 














Humboldt Bay.. 














Fort Yuma 















Fort Miller 





























Grass Valley 




























JVleadow Valley. 













Vineyard Culture. 327 

European districts for comparison). The figures represent 
the mean monthly heat in degrees of Fahrenheit (without 

This table includes places which represent the farthest 
extremes of the state. The observations on Sonoma tem- 
peratures were taken by my friend Major Snyder, who has 
one of the most highly-cultivated vineyards in the country. 
There, and at the vineyard of a second friend, Mr. Craig, 
where I have passed many pleasant days, and at others in 
the same beautiful valley, I have had an opportunity of 
witnessing the culture of the grape under favorable circum- 
stances. Mr. Craig, besides capital white and red wines, 
has succeeded in making some of the best grape brandy in 
the state ; while Major Snyder's wines, some of them four 
and five years old, closely resembled high -class Burgundy 
and Ehine wines.* It would astonish those who look upon 
California as not" yet "of age" — which, in fact, she hardly 
is — to see the wine-presses of scientific construction, the 
wine-houses and cellars of Sonoma and Los Angeles. Most 
of the vineyards in Sonoma were in the valley, but the hill- 
sides will sooner or later be utilized ; the vines of all va- 
rieties, and mainly European, were all dwarfed, staked, and 
kept carefully pruned. 

Los Angeles (Pueblo de los Angeles), " the Abode of the 
xlngels," is also the abode of a large number of wine-grow- 
ers, who, if not angels, are at least jolly fellows ! It is situ- 
ated on the southern coast, and the county yields the larg- 
est returns of wine; Sonoma standing second, and Santa 
Clara County third. It is much warmer, as our table 
shows, than Sonoma, and the most delicate and tender 
grapes ripen there to perfection. The native American 

* Time Vins worked wonders. Wilkes, in 1841, ''found the wines of the 
country miserable stuff, which would scarcely be taken for the juice of the 

328 Immigrants Desired. 

grapes (Delaware, Clinton, Perkins, King, etc., all hardy 
varieties) are not much prized in California, but in one or 
two counties the Catawba is a great favorite. The Musca- 
telle, Isabella, and Mission grapes are the commonest va- 
rieties grown in large quantities. The grape-vines when 
five years old yield plenteously. I have before me a story 
of a vine of the Isabella variety, which in its fourth year 
bore 1500 bunches, weighing 420 lbs. The "wonderful 
gooseberry " of periodical recurrence must evidently hide 
its diminished head, or burst with rage '!* 

Hops and tobacco are now raised in fair quantities, while 
experiments have been made in the culture of cotton, and 
the rearing of silk-worms. 

As I have before stated, immigrants are much desired 
in California, and the question naturally arises which classes 
of our population might most profitably venture there. 
First and foremost stands the farmer. Farming in En- 
gland — though not quite so unprofitable as some grumblers 
would have us believe — is, to the small tenant at least, no 
very paying pursuit. Our small farmers, if possessed of a 
little capital to start with, would soon rise to competence in 
California. Next comes the man with a definite profession, 
business, or trade ; especially the skilled mechanic, who is 
safe anywhere on the Pacific coasts, and specially so in 
California or Oregon ; and, lastly, the laborer, and female 
servant, who are perfectly sure of remunerative employ- 
ment. Young men brought up in idleness, men of no defi- 

* Hittell tells us, in his "Resources of California," that in 1765 " Sen- 
ora Dominguez, a native of Mexico, and a resident of Santa Barbara Coun- 
ty, rode from Monterey to her home, and, before starting, she picked up a 
grape-cutting for a switch. When she had ridden twenty miles, she saw 
that her switch was budding; she took care of it, and after getting to her 
house at Montecito, planted it in the garden. The vine grew, and now its 
trunk is 16 inches in diameter, and its branches are supported by an arbor 
114 feet long and 78 feet wide. Its annual yield of grapes is three or four 
tons." » 

Politics — Education. 329 

irite profession or business, petty clerks, counter-jumpers, 
and the devotees of "genteel" callings, had better stay 
where they are. California is no home for them, unless 
they mean to mend their ways. The market even there is 
overstocked with such persons. 

Although California was a loyal state during the late 
civil war in America, there is much liberality of sentiment 
there, and politics do not run as high as in the Atlantic 
States. The Englishman* will find numbers of his coun- 
trymen, and there is no reason why he should not venture 
there. If he goes, he will assuredly never reproach the 
writer for his recommendation. 

In the matter of education — one of so much importance 
to the man who brings a family with him — California is by 
no means behind the rest of the country, and the United 
States may fairly boast of her school system. In addition 
to any number of private schools and colleges, the public 
free schools are of the most efficient kind, and in them the 
children of well-to-do citizens, as well as those of a lower 
grade, are frequently to be found, side by side. The Lin- 
coln school-house in San Francisco, which accommodates 
1000 scholars, is a building which would attract notice any- 
where, and 9000 children attend the public schools of that 
city. They are instructed by a corps of 180 teachers, male 
and female, the larger part of whom hail from Boston, the 
centre — in the United States — of culture, refinement and 
education. To the other features of their school system is 

* With regard to the wine manufacture and the culture of the vine, it is 
obvious that foreigners from the wine districts of the Continent — from small 
proprietors to peasants — would each and all be specially welcomed, and 
could very readily find remunerative employment in the vineyards of Cali- 
fornia, and, sooner or later, become proprietors themselves. If they go with 
a reasonable amount of capital, they can become such at once. Already 
there are many intelligent Germans, Frenchmen, and Hungarians, but the 
labor employed is mainly Chinese. Men capable of superintending vine- 
vards are much desired. 

830 ' School-Ma'ams" — Investments. 

added that of furnishing a tolerably well paid employment to 
a large number of young women. The " school-ma'ams " — 
as they are popularly known — are usually certificated, high- 
ly-educated young ladies, who in the cities teach the younger 
children, but in the country sometimes take complete charge 
of a school, and often prove more successful than the rough- 
er sex. But it is hard work, as the jaded, fagged-out looks 
of some of these ladies prove ; and I always rejoiced when 
I heard of the transformation of a "school-ma'am" to wife 
— not a very uncommon proceeding ! In justice to Califor- 
nia, it should be stated that these well-informed, sensible 
— occasionally a little "blue" — but often very attractive 
young ladies, are at a premium. I have no doubt that such 
would be equally so here in England if we had a similar 
system, and that the " girl of the period " — if she is indeed 
a fact — would be completely cut out. 

With regard to the investment of capital in San Francisco, 
the central portions of the city are now extremely valuable. 
Still any new-comer can readily acquire a " lot " in the 
suburbs. Many building and land associations — like those 
of our own country — exist. The usual price of an ordina- 
ry plot of land for building purposes (in the outskirts of the 
city) is from two to three hundred dollars (about £40 to 

The water-frontage of San Francisco does not exceed 
nine miles in length, and is, of course, very valuable, and 
likely to become infinitely more so. San Franciscans, who 
believe that their city will — as the best port on the coast, 
and the virtual centre of commerce and manufactures — rival 

* No respectable man will find any difficulty in petting a house put up 
for him by the societies above mentioned, to be paid for by monthly install- 
ments, little exceeding the ordinary rent of a similar dwelling. General ex- 
penses are rather high in San Francisco, and the rents of ordinary cottages 
or villas in the suburbs will average twice those of such buildings in the out- 
skirts of London. 

Investments. 331 

New York, wish that the water-front were larger. Bad, 
however, as is the site in some respects, there is no better on 
the bay, and therefore the growth of the city must undoubt- 
edly follow its present course, and those who can afford, to 
invest in outside property, and wait ten or fifteen years, 
will most assuredly reap a rich reward. One of the finest 
sites in San Francisco was purchased in the early days by 
a sailor who left the coast for years, and who turned up one 
fine day to find himself — much to his own surprise — a 
wealthy man. ' The sand-heap he is said to have bought in 
a drunken frolic, and which next morning he probably 
thought was a worthless bargain, is now in the very heart 
of the city, covered with handsome buildings, enclosing a 
public " Plaza," with shrubbery, etc. The value of proper- 
ty in New York has constantly doubled, and redoubled 
during the last thirty years, and, in spite of all unbelievers 
— and there are croakers even in California — that of San 
Francisco will do the same. 

The timid and doubting in such matters may advanta- 
geously read the following New York anecdote, which I re- 
cently clipped from an American paper : 

" A lot on Broadway, 25 by 100 (feet), and well up town, 
had been sold for one hundred thousand dollars. Several 
prudent, well-to-do citizens, were discussing the purchase, 
and, of course, were certain that the price was greatly above 
the value, and that the purchaser and his money had part- 
ed company forever. An elderly gentleman sitting by 
waited until all had expressed their opinions, and then qui- 
etly said, " I have known that lot ever since it was farming- 
land. When first sold as a lot, it brought three hundred 
dollars. As the city grew, it changed hands many times, 
and brought two thousand, ten thousand, thirty thousand, 
sixty thousand, and now one hundred thousand dollars, and 
every time the buyer has been called a fool !" 

332 Conclusion. 

I trust that these pages will have proved that California, 
and the Pacific coast generally, afford a wide and a fresh 
field to the scientific man, the artist, and traveller, as well as 
to the capitalist, the agriculturist, and the emigrant. When 
London is within sixteen days, and New York within a 
week's travel of San Francisco — as they will be on the 
completion of the Pacific Kailroad — we may reasonably 
hope to see the coast become as well known as it certainly 
deserves tQ be.* 

* Bayard Taylor states, in his recent work on " Colorado," that the Pa- 
cific Railroad track is being in some places extended at the rate of a mile 
and a half a day. "Recently," says he, " Two miles and seventeen hundred 
feet were laid in a single day — the greatest feat of the kind in the history of 



Mr. "Waddington's scheme for a railway and steam-boat 
route from Canada to British Columbia, recently laid before 
the Royal Geographical Society, etc., has attracted some no- 
tice from the press. I do not, of course, propose to go into 
details • suffice it to say that by following the chain of the 
great Canadian lakes, the course of the Saskatchewan River 
for a distance of 1249 miles, and Fraser River, in British Co- 
lumbia, for 260 or 280 miles, Mr. Waddington would take us 
2400 miles by water, out of the 3490 from Montreal to the 
head of Bute Inlet (British Columbia). By this route, the 
fertile settlement of Red River, now detached and isolated, 
would be connected with civilization and the outer world. 

The project has been branded as premature, and, judging 
by our standard at home, it is so. The construction of a rail- 
way here always presupposes a string of cities, towns, or vil- 
lages. In America it has been often otherwise ; the railway 
has been the forerunner of population. Here the country 
makes the railway; there frequently the railway makes the 
country. The Illinois Central Railroad, and many others in 
the United States, furnish examples. The state through which 
the line passes concedes to the railway company large tracts 
of land at intervals on either side of the route, and the first 
dividends are paid out of the sale of that very land, itself 
much increased in value by the construction of the iron road. 
Land only wor^h a nominal price, which could be obtained 
previously for a dollar an acre, suddenly rises to ten or twen- 
ty dollars an acre, or much more. Eligible spots are selected 
for town sites, and a population rapidly springs up along the 

334 Appendix. 

line. Such roads are often roughly, too roughly, made : a 
single pair of rails is all that is deemed necessary ; no ex- 
penses are incurred with regard to elaborate, or even com- 
modious, stations and termini. But, as the district improves, 
the railway is sure, for its own interests, to follow suit. 

Taking into consideration that the proposed line would 
connect Canada with British Columbia and the North Pacific 
— would pass through the prosperous and fast-improving Red 
River and Saskatchewan districts — such a project has points 
in its favor under any circumstances, and has more, in the first 
instance, to recommend it than m!my a similar line in the 
United States. 

In the discussion which followed the reading of Mr. Wad- 
dington's paper at the Royal Geographical Society's meeting, 
Dr. Rae pointed out the shallowness of the Saskatchewan 
River. It would ill become me to criticise the statements 
of a traveller who has seen as much, or probably a great deal 
more, of northernmost America than any other man. Nev- 
ertheless, no one who is familiar with American river-steam- 
ers would lay much stress on this point. I have seen flat- 
bottomed stern-wheel steamers built to draw no more than a 
foot or fifteen inches of water. On the Upper Missouri, on 
the Columbia and Fraser rivers, such steamers are common. 
I well remember, in British Columbia, passing through a 
" slough," as it was called, at which the passengers were ask- 
ed to walk from one side of the boat to the other to assist it 
in wriggling through, and where a part of the crew and pas- 
sengers got out into the water to help it on, much as we did 
with our rafts on the rivers of Vancouver Island. There are 
creeks in California where something similar happens, and 
where, if you are on the bank a little way from the stream, 
the steamer appears to be travelling on land. (On this point, 
see an engraving and descriptive letterpress in Hutchings's 
" Scenes, etc., in California.") 

In a paper read before the Royal Geographical Society, 
Nov. 25, 1867, John Collinson, Esq., C. E., etc., mentioned in- 
cidentally steamers drawing, when laden, nq more than ten 
inches of water. 

With regard to rapids — often a worse obstacle than any 
other on the rivers of the northern continent of America — it 

Appendix. 335 

may yet safely be stated that nearly all or any of them are 
amenable to the influence of a little engineering skill. They 
owe their existence, of course, to either sunken rocks, accumu- 
lations of drift-wood, or sand-bars. A few hundred pounds of 
powder have often turned a brawling, dangerous rapid into a 
comparatively quiet part of the stream. But here, again, the 
American-built steamers of good power often get over rapids 
which seem almost impassable. It is not many years ago 
that it was pronounced impossible to reach Fort Yale, Fra- 
ser River, on account of rapids (at Emory's Bar), and, in con- 
sequence, Fort Hope was for a long time the head of the 
navigation. This rapid is now passed many times a week in 
both directions. A few rocks, etc., were removed at a low 
stage of the water, and flat-bottomed steamers of greater 
power were constructed for the route. In common with 
most visitors to British Columbia, I have passed over that 
part of Fraser River, have seen the steamer stick for half an 
hour together, wriggle from side to side of the stream, the 
while all her timbers quivered, and every available pound of 
steam was " got up." But art triumphed over nature — at 
the risk, perhaps, of blowing us all to destruction — and we 
" made the riffle." The excitement of the thing was worth 
half the money ! 

To Mr. Waddington belongs the credit of drawing atten- 
tion to a comparatively easy route across the continent ; and 
although the Pacific Railroad will be built and finished while 
this project is being discussed, there is no reason why we 
should suppose that one railway between the Atlantic and 
the Pacific would suffice for all that vast country. Most of 
us will probably live to hear of more than one such line in 
the United States ; and Canada, backed by England, ought 
at once to be up and moving in the same direction. 

336 Appendix. 


Great doubts were at times thrown on the practicability 
of this project, and it has for the present, at least, been com- 
pletely superseded by the success of the Atlantic Cable. 
The work proposed was virtually the same — to unite the 
Old and New Worlds. The line, as proposed, was to extend 
the already constructed line in British Columbia, northward 
through Russian America, across Behring Strait, and then 
proceed southward through Eastern Siberia, till a junction 
should be made with the Russian lines already built to the 
Amoor. New York being in constant communication with 
San Francisco, and San Francisco with British Columbia, the 
connections would have been complete. 

I propose to notice some of the objections which have been 
at various times raised, but many of which entirely disap- 
peared when our explorers had examined the country. 

1st. " The difficulty of keeping up a line running through 
a more or less Arctic, thinly populated, and barren country." 

Already in the United States some of the principal and 
paying lines run through country of doubtful value and thin- 
ly populated. The Russians, moreover, have a great line 
which enables them to communicate from St. Petersburg to 
Irkutsk and the Amoor ; and our proposed line hardly ran 
through wilder or more barren countries than those just 
mentioned. The W. U. line was to have followed, more or 
less closely, the courses of great rivers in many places ; hence 
our explorations on the Fraser, on the Yukon, on the Anadyr. 
Such rivers furnish means of rapid transit in summer (by 
canoe), and almost equally rapid transit in winter (by sledg- 
ing.) Stations were to be erected at moderate intervals along 
the course of the line, and there was infinitely less to fear 
from Indian or other native depredations in Alaska and East- 

Appendix. 337 

em Siberia, than on telegraph routes which are already open 
in the United States. Furthermore, it has been found, that 
in lines passing through an Alpine district, notably in those 
crossing the Sierra Nevada Range (California, Nevada, etc.), 
the poles, once firmly planted, remained in better order than 
those crossing countries enjoying a warmer climate. 

2d. With regard to the cable across Behring Strait, it was 
urged that icebergs would infallibly ground on it and cut it 
up. The answer to this is direct : icebergs, properly so 
called, are never seen in Behring Sea or Strait. The prevail- 
ing currents set strongly into the Arctic Ocean-^tfiot from it. 
Floating ice, in deep packs, is, of course, abundant in the 
early summer; and for this reason, Colonel Bulkley,' after a 
detailed examination, selected for the cable " landings " the 
deepest and most protected harbors he could discover. Port 
Clarence was selected for the American side.. It has a good 
entrance, ten fathoms of water, and a mud bottom. On the 
Asiatic side, Pentigu Gulf (or Aboleschef Bay), Seniavine 
Straits, was selected, for similar advantages. St. Lawrence 
and Mechigme Bay were considered too exposed. 

A part of the numerous soundings, taken by members of 
our expedition in Bearing Sea, have been already recorded 
on page 110. The moderate depth of the whole sea, and its 
soft bottom, seem points in favor of the proposed cable cross- 

A late Victoria (V. I.) newspaper states that the telegraph 
line already constructed from New Westminster to the town 
at the mouth of Quesnelle River (which was the first section 
of our overland telegraph) is to be extended to Cariboo. 
Those inaccessible mines, which seemed, a few years ago, as 
isolated from civilization as is Spitzbergen, will then be in 
direct communication with San Francisco, New York, and 

The real obstacle in the way of our enterprise, especially 
in British Columbia and the larger part of Alaska, was the ex- 
istence of densely-timbered ground, where, in wintry storms, 
or by the processes of natural decay, the trees might be ex- 
pected to fall on the telegraph line. To obviate this, it be- 
came necessary to clear a wide " track" on either side of the 


338 Appendix. 

line — a work necessarily of some expense. But no part of 
the proposed line passed through a worse country, in that 
respect, than the first portion already constructed to the 
mouth of Quesnelle ; and, as it has been since kept in good 
working order, the objection is not a fatal one. 

It has been proposed to extend!' the same line to Sitka. 


Lisianski, Kotzebue, and Sir George Simpson are the only 
authorities on Sitka which we possess. Mr. Robert Brown, 
of Edinburgh, kindly informs me that the flora of Sitka was 
described by Bongard (in the " Memoires de l'Academie, etc., 
de St. Petersbourg," and also in a separate work), but the 
country generally has not been overdone by travellers. 

Until last year (1867), Sitka was an inaccessible place, and 
there were no regular means of communication from any 
point. Now all this is changed ; steamers^ touching at Van- 
couver Island, ply between San Francisco and Sitka once or 
twice a month. In summer this trip is likely to be a pleas- 
ant one ; late in the autumn it may sometimes be very much 
the reverse. The distance from San Francisco is (approxi- 
mately) 1500 miles. 

Sitka, itself built on an island, has no roads whatever from 
it, and the traveller must, therefore, thread the forests as we 
did on Vancouver Island, charter a canoe for trips in the im- 
mediate neighborhood, or take his own yacht or other vessel. 
At irregular periods there will, doubtless, be facilities for 
communication with the northern coast, the Aleutian Islands, 
etc. For these points, however, San Francisco, California, 
and Honolulu, in the Sandwich Islands, are the best starting- 
points. The whalers and traders almost invariably leave 
those ports for the north in the early spring. 

Appendix. 339 


Poet Clarence and Grantley Harbor (an inner basin) 
were first explored and named by Captain Beechey in 1827. 
Point Spencer, the extremity of a long spit, which shuts it in, 
was determined by him to be in lat. 65° 16' 40" N., long. 
166° 47' 50" W. It was frequently visited during the search 
for Sir John Franklin. H. M. S. "Plover" (Captain Moore) 
wintered there in 1851-2, and H. M. S. " Rattlesnake " (Com- 
mander Trollope) in 1853-4. See the numerous " Blue-books " 
on Arctic Explorations, etc. 

During the winter of 1866-7 and following summer, Cap- 
tain Libby, of our telegraph service, with nearly forty men, 
stopped at this inaccessible place. At Grantley Harbor,, a 
good station, and other houses (which have been left there), 
and portions of the telegraph line, were built by these men. 
It was, as before stated, the spot intended for the Behring 
Strait cable " landing " on the American side, and it has been 
already mentioned as the central* point at which the natives 
of Kotzebue and Norton Sounds, and the neighboring coun- 
try, meet the Tchuktchis from the Siberian coast. Many 
whalers annually visit this harbor for trading purposes, and 
I expect to hear of a permanent white settlement being 
formed there. The experience of the earlier Arctic explorers, 
as of our telegraph men, shows that it is a good spot to win- 
ter in. Some of our men there, at one time very short of 
provisions, lived for months at an Indian village near Cape 
Prince of Wales. Supplies from the resources of the country 
were very uncertain. In 1866-7, the natives in the neigh- 
borhood were almost starving, and were at one time reduced 
to boiling down their old boots and fragments of hide, in 
order to sustain life. " Yet," said a correspondent (a member 
of our expedition), writing from thence, " the party under 
Captain Libby, although without bread or flour for some 
weeks, escaped the scurvy entirely. Th% generally-received 

340 Appendix. 

opinion that scurvy is generated from want of flour does 
not seem to be correct. At the station (Fort St. Michael's), 
where plenty of flour was received, and freely used, they 
were afflicted with this disease; while at Port Clarence, 
where they were almost entirely dependent upon the re- 
sources of the country for some weeks, living upon walrus 
and seal meat, without flour or bread, no symptom of scurvy 
made its appearance. 

Very severe snow-storms., called " poorgas," swept across 
the open and barren country at times during winter; but, 
nevertheless, our men persevered, in what eventually proved 
a thankless task. They were often camped out at tempera- 
tures below the freezing of mercury. At the station, among 
other devices for passing the long winter evenings, our men 
concocted a MS. newspaper, which was entitled The Esqui- 
maux. This was afterward printed in San Francisco, as a 
memento of the expedition. 





Words from the dialect of the Malemutes, Norton Sound, Northern 
Alaska. — Wh ymper . 

I Wounga*. 

He,... Oona. 

We.. = Wurgut. 

You Itlepit. 

Man Iuuet. 

Woman Achanuk. 

Child Kakooshka. 

Brother Ungarunga. 

Sister Nooga. 

Dav Oblook (see also 


Night Niptiga. 

Morning Oblaam. 

Noon Kolwachtook. 

Evening Nakekiluskuk. 

Month (See Moon.) 

Sun Sickunyuk. 

Moon Tachkut. 

Star Obloat. 

Land Noona. 

Water Imuk. 

Sea Tagaiuk. 

Lake Nasuuk. 

River Coke. 

Snow Kanik. 

Ice Seko. 

Rain Ebwinuktuk. 

Head Neakuk. 

Face Keenyuk. 

Mouth Kanuk. 

Teeth Keeutik. 

Arm Talik. 

Leg Neeyu. 





Canoe, Ship 








Caps (percussion). 


Shot .... 

Skin coat 

Skin trowsers 

Skin boots 

Skin cap 

Skin gloves, or 
































Eweek, Penikiruk. 









Shineek (used to 
count time. So 
many "sleeps")- 



Bread Kakook. 

Fish Ekathcthlook. 

Bird Ekashika. 

(Reindeer) meat... Naga. 

Sugar Kapsitaak. 

Whisky Tanuk. 

Berries Asheuk. 

Grease Ookarook. 

Beaver Palouktuk. 

Sable (marten) Kavaitehuk. 

Mink Tagiakpuk. 

Bear Aoutkluit. 

Squirrel Chikirik. 

Reindeer Toontook. 

Dog Camukter. 

Musquito Keektagiuck. 

Whale Akiwik. 

Seal Oogarook. 

Walrus Aiwik. 

Wolf Araaouk. 

Yes Waa. 

No, Not Peechuk. 

Big Ungidooruk. 

Little Mikiclooruk. 

Few Ekeektuk. 

Plenty Amalacktook. 

Good Nakuruk. 

Bad Ashuruk. 

Quick Kelumuk. 

Slow Sikichuk. 

Cold Allopar. 

Hot Allopar peechuk 

(not cold). 

Crooked Chakoonaruk. 

Straight Nalooruk. 

What Schuman. 

Where Nami. 

Here Mani. 

Now Puckmummi. 

By-and-by Atachta. 

Who Keena. 

How much? Capsenik. 

Don't know Ki-yume. 

Come here Cakinee. 

Go away Aunee. 

Go on a journey... Alachtuk. 

Work Chawitka. 

See Touktook. 

Give Aichilunger. 

Buy Etauchsik. 

Sell •. Keepuchuk. 

Laugh Kachkuktuk. 

Talk Ocaktuk. 

Tell Kanucktuk. 

Bring Taishke. 

Kill Takootka. 

Shoot...! Shoopega. 

Understand Tookshiruk. 

Steal Tigaliktobk. 

How much for 

that? Chimuk. 

Thank you Koyana. 


1 Atousik. 

2 Ipar. 

3 Peeniuk. 

4 Seetimat. 

5 Talimanuk. 

6 Echukerit. 

7 Malounik shepnelik. 

8 Peenesheruk shepnelik. 

9 Ko'lingneotilik. 

10 Kolit. 

11 10 and 1 do., etc. 

20 Enuenuk. 





Words from the Co-yuhon dialect, spoken (with slight variations} on the Yukon 
River for at least 500 miles of its lower and middle course. (Ingelete, a 
variety of same dialect.') — Whtmper. 

Good Spirit Kanuckertoltoi. 

Bad Spirit Tcheklaker. 

I Se. 

Thou Ne. 

He Ecossee. 

We Seyer. 

You She. 

They Nun. 

Man Tenald. 

Woman Salturn. 

Child Tenaiyusa. 

Brother Skitla. 

Sister Stadsa. 

Head Se woiyer. 

Face Senun. 

Forehead Sekata. 

Eye Se noga. 

Ear Se tsa. 

Nose Se nee. 

Mouth S'alotte. 

Tongue S'acloula. 

Tooth S'uwyer. 

Neck S'ukugl. 

Arm Sekaner. 

Hand Se lur. 

Body S'kotit. 

Leg Sowool. 

Foot Se ka. 

Bone KTun. 

Heart Se naiyjtz 

Chief Kooka. 

House Konaugh 

Village Zadlecle. 

Canoe Metaui. 

Paddle Tauloi. 

Bow Klintun. 

Arrow K'au. 

Gun Eltudla. 

Caps (percussion).. Onunkadadoi. 

Powder Kau koon. 

Bullet Kautla. 

Shot Koon. 

Knife Kakikltaun. 


Tobacco Tabac . Tacona 


Coat Talak. 

Trowsers Katchee . 

Shoes Kakatauch. 

Cap Kakadalaion. 

Kettle Oclock. 

Axe Mukalklalla. 

Flour Klatsmitze. 

Fire Tacona. Kletcle. 

Water Too. 

Ice T'un. 

Snow Nootaga. 

Sun S'o. 

Moon Taltolla. 

Star K'lune. 

Day K'lut. 

Night K'liltahl. 

Morning Kadamatona. 

Evening Lalaatsun. 

Summer Saner. 

Winter Koidau. 

Wind Atse. 

Rain Al'corn. 

River Suckener (small), 


Mountain Klehl. 

Island Taash (new). 

Valley Tekalculcul. Ko- 




Stone, rock L'orna. 

Tree Chooma. 

Wood K'aut. 

Swamp Munacut. 

Birch- tree Ki'e. 

Spruce Chuma. 

Bowl Kluck. 

Beads Neltilla. 

Blanket T'suda. 

Needle Klatakona. 

Bag Melketla. 

Berries Keeka. 

Fat N'kau. 

Keindeer Anoyer. 

Reindeer tongue... Kakloula. 

Moose Tanaiger. 

Rabbit Kaugh. 

Bear Klaousa. 

Marten Carkayousa. 

Mink Tauchkousa. 

Beaver Carka. 

Dog K'lick. 

Wolf Yes. 

Grouse Telerbucker. 

Duck Nintaal. 

Goose Titsena. 

Fish Telamachkur. 

Musquito Kl'e. 

Big Nekau. 

Small Nacoutza. 

Strong Kootclear. 

Old Klokee. 

Young Ataltahai. 

Good Nazoon. 

Bad Satklaka. 

Dead Tult'lun. 

Alive Toitala. 

Cold Azoo. 

Warm Azoo micullah 

(not cold). 
Many Lorn. 

Far Neelot. 

Who Tewa. 

Where Houghtee. 

Yesterday Katona. 

To-day Autakut. 

To-morrow Katooman. 

Yes Ha. 

No, not Micullah. 

Sleep Littern. 

Sit Litto. 

Give Entar. 

Talk Tini. 

Shoot Teltudla. 

Work Konitine. 

Now Atakauch. 

By-and-by Kl'at. 

Quick Tow-wer. 

All Etedsun. 

Hungry Kutlakat. 

Enough Koodar. 

Come here Orni. 

Go away Antouger. 

How much? Tenaltai. 

Thank you Marci. 

How are you ? (sal- 
utation) Koyana. 

Don't know Testini. 


1 Ketleket. 

2 Unte. 

3 Taunkg. 

4 Tinike. 

5 Ketsnala. 

6 five one. 

7 five two. 

8 five three. 

9 five four. 

10 Nekoshnala. 

K * For some brief observations on these dialects, see the writer's Paper on the '•'■Natives 
of the Yukon River," in the " Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London" 
for 1868. 

Appendix. 345 

kotch-a'-kutchin vocabulary. 

Words from the language of the Kotch-a' -Kutchins — the Indians of Yukon 
River, at the mouth of the Porcupine River, in Northern Alaska. — Kkn- 


Good Spirit Ti'h-hu-gun. (Lit., "My old friend;" supposed to in- 
habit the sun and moon, and to be powerless for good 
or evil.) 

Bad Spirit Chu't-sai 11 . (This seems to be merely the spirit of death, 

and only for this reason bad. To it go all souls, good 
and bad.) 

Man Tin'-ji. 

Woman Trin-joh. 

Boy T'tsi-ah. 

Girl Ni-chit. 

Infant Trl-ny'in'. 

Father Ti'h ; my father, ti'h-e; thy father, ne-fih; his or her 

father, ve-tih. 

Mother Hun (same as river); my mother, na'-ah. 

Husband Kai-ih ; my husband, se-kai-ih ; thy husband, ne-kai-ih; 

her husband, ve-kai-ih. 

Wife At. 

Son (of father) Tin'-ji (lit., man). My son, if spoken by the father, or 

as relating to him, se'-tin-jl ; thy son, ne'-tin-ji ; his 
son, ve'-tin-ji. 

Son (of mother) Zuh ; my son, si'-zuh ; thy son, ni'-zuh; her son, vf- 


Daughter (of father) Chi; my daughter, se'-chi ; thy daughter, ni-chi ; his 
daughter, ve-chi. 

Daughter (of moth- Ge'-tsi ; my daughter, si'-ge-tsi ; thy daughter, ni-ge- 
er) tsi ; his daughter, vi-ge-tsi. 

Brother (elder) De ; my elder brother, sun'-de ; thy elder brother, nun- 

de ; his or her elder brother, vun-de. 

Brother (younger).. Chah ; "young," se'-chah; thy younger brother, ne- 
chah ; his or her younger brother, ve-chah. 

Sister (elder) Chlh ; my elder sister, se'-chih; thy elder sister, ne- 

chili ; his or her elder sister, ve-chih. 

Sister (younger) Chklh; my younger sister, se'-chidh ; thy younger sis- 
ter, ne-chidh ; his or her younger sister, ve-chdih. 

An Indian Tin-jl. 

346 Appendix. 

People Tin-jL 

Indian fashion, or in 
the manner of In- 
diana Tin-ji-zuh. 

White man Man-o-tlit. 

Head Ti-'chih; my head, ti'-chih ; thy head, ni-chih ; his or 

her head, vi-chih. 
Hair E-geh. (In speaking of a man's hair, "head-hair," 

chi'h-geh is always used) ; my hair, si'-chih-geh ; thy 

hair ni-chih-geh ; his or her hair, vi-chih-geh. 
Face Chi'-neh ; my face, si'-neh ; thy face, ni-neh; his, hers, 

or its face, vi-neh. 
Forehead Tchun'-t'tsut ; my forehead, sun'-t'tsut ; thy forehead, 

nun-t'tsut ; his, her, or its forehead, vun-t'tsut. 
Ear ChS'-tzeh ; my ear, se'-tzeh ; thine ear, ne'-tzeh; his, 

her, or its ear, ve-tzeh. 
Eye Chin'-deh ; my eye, sm'-deh ; thine eye, nin'-deh ; his, 

her, or its eye, vin-deh. 
Nose Chin'-tsih; mynose, sin'-tsih ; thy nose, nin'-tsih ; his, 

her, or its nose, vin-tsih. 
Mouth Che-zhik; my mouth, se-zhik ; e thy mouth, ne-zhik; his, 

her, or its mouth, ve-zhik. 
Tongue Chi-cha ; my tongue, se-cha ; thy tongue, ne-cha ; his, 

her, or its tongue, ve-cha. 
Tooth Cha'-goh ; my tooth, sa'-goh ; thy tooth, na-goh; his, 

her, or its tooth, va-goh. 
Beard Chi-te'-ai-geh ; my beard, si-te'-ai-geh ; thy beard; ni- 

te-ai-geh ; his, her, or its beard, vi-te-ai-geh ; (chin 

Neck Che'-koh ; my neck, se'-koh ; thy neck, ne-koh ; his, her, 

or its neck, ve-k5h. 
Arm.. Che'-ki-In ; my arm, s6-ki-in ; thy arm, nS-ki-in; his, 

her, or its arm, ve-ki-in. 
Hand Chin-li ; my hand, sin'-li ; thy hand, nin-li ; his, her, 

or its hand, vin-li. 
Fingers La'-t'thuk; my fingers, sin-la'-t'thuk ; thy fingers, nin- 

la'-t'thuk ; his, her, or its fingers, vin-la'-t'thuk. 
Nails Che'-kaih ; my nails, s6'-kaih ; thy nails, n6-kaih ; his, 

her, or its nails, ve'-kaih. 
Body Che'-zuk-taih ; my body, se'-zuk-taih ; thy body, ne- 

zuk-taih ; his, her, or its body, ve-zuk-taih. 
Belly Che'-vut; my belly, s6'-vut ; thy belly, ne-yut; his, her, 

or its belly, v6-vut. 
Leg Che'-dhudh; my leg, se'-dhudh; thy leg, nS-dhudh; 

his, her, or its leg, v6-dhudh. 
Foot Che'-keh ; my foot, se'-keh; thyfoot, n6-keh ; his, her, 

or its foot, ve-keb. 

Appendix. 347 

Toes Che'-keh-chi'; my toes, se"-keh-chi' ; thy toes, ne-keh- 

chi ; his, her, or its toes, ve-keh-chi. 
Bone Tthun; my bone, se-t'thun ; thy bone, ne-t'thun; his, 

her, or its bone, ve-t'thun. 
Heart CM'-t'tri; my heart, si-t'tri ; thy heart, ni-t'tri ; his, her, 

or its heart, vi-t'tri. 
Blood Tah ; my blood, se'-tah; thy blood, ne-tah; his, her, 

or its blood, ve-tah. 

Chief Kah-keh'. 

Warrior (No name.) 

Friend Se'-cbl-ah. (Lit., " My companion,") 

House Zeh. (Originally an Indian lodge was probably Zeh.) 

Indian lodge NE-vi-ah'-zeh. (Ni-vi'-ah is "lodge cover .") 

Village Zeh-keh. (Lit., "Many houses," or "many lodges.") 

Kettle TT-ah. (Nearly \ike father — a pot or cup is- chu n -tl-ah.) 

Arrow Ki-e. 

Bow UhF-ti n . 

Axe Ta-i n h. 

Knife Rsih ; my knife, si'-rzih; thy knife, ni'-rzih ; his, or 

her knife, vi'-rzih. 

Canoe ; T'-trih. 

Paddle Tah-i n h . (Very nearly the same as axe.) 

Boat T'tiih-cho'h. (Lit., "Big canoe.") 

Raft Hka n . 

Indian shoes Keh-trih. 

Bread Kli'-uth-chu. 

Flour Kli'-uth. 

Ashes Kli'-uth. 

Earth Kli-uth. (Flour, ashes, and earth called precisely the 

same word.) 
Pipe Se-tid-chi; my pipe, set'-se-tid'-chi. (Lit., "Tobacco 


Tobacco Se'-tid. 

Sky Zi'-e. 

Horizon Zi-e-ba n h. 

Cloud K'kdh. 

Sun Drin-ur'-zlh. 

Moon Tudh-ur-zlh. 

Star Su n . 

Day Drin. 

Light A-t'tn. 

Night Hkah. 

Darkness Tudh. 

Morning Vun. (Almost the same as " Lake.") 

Evening Na-chi-ai n . (Lit., "Sunset.") 

Spring Tai n . 

Summer S'sin. 

348 Appendix. 

Autumn Hkain'-sun. 

Winter Hkaih. 

Wind A'kh-traih. 

Lightning Nah-tun'-kun. (Lit., "Thunder-fire.") 

Thunder Nah-tun'. 

Rain Tsin. 

Snow Zah. 

Hail Chin-luh. 

Fire K6 n . 

Aurora Borealis Ya-kai n . 

Water Chu n . 

Ice T'tun. (A fragment of ice or floating ice is Thlu.) 

Land, Earth Nun. 

Sea Cho n -choh. ("Big water.") 

River Hun. 

Lake Vun. 

Valley Ku-na-tri. 

Mountain D'dhah. 

Island Njuh. 

Stone, Rock Chi. 

Copper The'tsra". 

Iron Chl-tsih. 

Tree Te-chun'. 

Wood Te-chun' or Tsroh. 

Leaf Chit-un. 

Bark Ba-tri. (The bark of the birch, however, is alwavs 


Grass K'kluh. 

Poplar T'toh. (Populus tremuloides, T'toh-zoh ; P. balsami- 

fera (?) T'toh.) 

Birch Hka -t'toh ; alder, koh. 

Willow Kaih-tluk'. (This is the common upland willow; an- 
other species on the lowlands, and of which the In- 
dians sometimes eat the soft new wo">d. is kaih-tzii'h 
— perhaps the true generic name for willow is kaih.) 

Spruce T'tsl-veh". 

Flesh, meat S'sih ; salted meat, sho-vi-let'. 

Dog Hklai n ; a small dog, thlug-a-tsul'; my dog, si'-lik ; thy 

dog, ni-lik ; his or her dog, vi-lik. 

Buffalo, fossil Ah-kih'; musk-ox and domestic cattle, ah-kih' (same). 

Bear (Black) S'soh ; grizzly bear, s'sih ; white bear, sih-ta'-kaih ; red 

bear (cinnamon bear), s'soh -ta-tsik'. 

Wolf Zoh. 

Reindeer Vut-zaih'. 

Moose Tin-ji-yuk'. 

Beaver Tse. 

Fox Na-kudh', or na-ku n dh ; black fox, na-kudh'-rzi n . 

Appendix. 349 

Squirrel K'kluk'k. (Sciurus Hudsonicus.) 

Marmot T'thah. (Spermophilus Parryi.) 

Rabbit Keh. 

Fly Ti n . 

Musquito Chih. 

Bird Tzlh'-tsoh or ni'un ; a small bird, as a robin, blackbird, 

or smaller, tzih'-tsoh ; a large bird, as a duck, a 
grouse, or larger, ni'-un. In speaking, the distinc- 
tion is always made. 

i- ^ Cha'-h'goh; duck's egg, te-tsun'-h'goh ; goose-egg, 


Feather Tsuth. 

Wing Chut-sun. 

Duck Te-tsun'. 

Goose '. Hketo. 

Fish T'thluk or chi'-e-luk. 

Salmon Thluk. This is the large salmon — a smaller species is 


Name Vdr-zih. 

Affection (I love 

him) Vat-i'-ni-thun ; I love you, net-i -ni-thun. 

White Ta-kaih. 

Black Ta-rzi n . 

Red Ta-tsik'. 

Blue No name, they call it "black." 

Yellow Ta-tloh'. 

Green Tah'-tloh. 

Grea,t Ni'-tsih or choh. Ni'-tsih is applied to pronouns, and 

as we would use "is large" — as your dog is large, 
ni'-lik-ni'-tsih. Choh is applied to nouns; in other 
cases, as "big -lake," vun-choh. 

Small Net'-tsul or tsul. {Is small), n6t'-sul, is applied like 

net'-tsih ; tsul like choh. A little, applied to quan- 
tity, kwin'-tsul. 

Strong Ni-t'aih'. 

Old S{U"-yi-dhelh-hkaI. 

Young Ke-chit-e'dha'. 

Good Nir-zlh'. (Nearly the same as your knife, ni'rzlh.) 

Bad Ni-zi n '-kwah . 

Handsome Me-go-na-thlih. 

Uftly Tra-rud'I-udh. 

Alive , Kon'-daih. 

Dead Ehl-chi n . (Killed, trl-dhehl-kai n .) 

Cold Nl-k'kudh. (Cold water, chu n -ni-k'kudh'.) 

Warm Ni-dha'. (Hot water, chu n -nl-dlia/.) 

I t SI. (Mine, sl-set'-sun. ) 

Thou Nun. 



He Ta-tun. 

We Nakh'-hun. 

Ye « Nakh'-hun. (Precisely the same as * ' we.") 

They Ka-ta'-t'tun. (Lit., " The others. ") 

This Chi. 

That Ta'-hgut. 

All Tut-thuk'. 

Many, much Lai n . 

Who ? Cho'-tl-en ? (Whose ? cho-ti-en-veY-sun ?) 

Where ? Kwe'-e-chi ? (Lit., ' ' Where is it ?" — where is my pipe ? 

sit'-se-tid'-chi kwe'-e-chi ?) 

Near..... Nah'-k'kodh; far, ni-zhit'. 

To-day Chuk-dsrin'. 

Yesterday K'kah'-tai n . 

To-morrow Yih'-kah. 

Yes A-ha. 

No No-kwa'. 

Sit Dhln'-tih. 

Stand Ni'-ne-dhut. 

Come A'-ne. 


1 Chih'-thluk. 

2 Ne'-kai n . 

3 Ti'-ik. 

4 Tang. 

5 Chih'-tluk-un'-li. 

6....:.... Nih'-kl-ti'-ik. 

7 E'tse-de'-tse-ne-kai n 

8 Nih'-ki-tang'. 

9 Men'-chudh-ne r koh'-kwa. 

10 Chi-thluk'-cho-tl-in. 

11 Chi-thluk'-vi~da-tuk. 

12 Ne'-kaln-vi-da-tuk. 

13 Tl'-ik-vi-da-tuk. 

20 Ne-kal n -ch6-ti'-in. 

30 Ti-ik-cho-ti'-m. 

Appendix. 351 


My companion on the Yukon, Mr. Dall, published a few 
notes on the geology of the region in " Silliman's American 
Journal" for January, 1868, some extracts ffom which are 
here given. 

Speaking of the mountains known as the " Ramparts," etc., 
he says : " They were entirely composed of azoic rocks, of 
which a silvery greenish rock of talcose appearance^ but very 
hard, predominates. Quartz in seams, slates and quartzite 
rocks, are abundant, and a rock resembling granite, but with 
a superfluity of feldspar, and no mica, is rare. The slates 
generally have a north-westerly dip. 

" True granite appears only once, near the termination of 
the Ramparts, and forms a ledge extending across the river, 
and making a rapid, not, however, a dangerous one. Fifty 
miles or less below the rapid the Ramparts terminate ; the 
Tanana River (or River of Mountains) comes in ; and from 
this point to the mouth, as a rule, the river is wide, with the 
right bank high and the left bank low, but occasionally with 
mountains in the distance, or a bluff on the river. From the 
end of the Ramparts to Co-yukuk River (250 miles) the right 
bank presents, in their order, conglomerate, quartzite, bluffs 
of yellow gravel, blue talcose slate conglomerate, hard blue 
slates and quartzose rocks, blue sandstones and a soft green 
rock (plutonic), with light stellate spots in it. Granite is 
very rare, and mica also. I have found fine specimens of 
obsidian on the beach, and, just above the Ramparts, pebbles 
of Niagara limestone, with its characteristic fossils. From 
the bend we find the following strata : blue sandstone (un- 
f ossiferous), brown sandstone in beds at least 500 feet thick, 
containing vegetable remains in some layers, and, rarely, casts 
of mollusca — ail, as far as I have collected, Lamellibranehs. 
Thirty miles below the bend is a small contorted seam of coal 

352 Appendix. 

between two thin layers of shale, containing very poor vege- 
table remains, and underlaid by the brown sandstone which 
pverlies the blue sandstone, which, in its turn, I think, covers 
the blue slates. The coal seam is very limited, being on the 
extreme point of a bluff, and the greater part of it has been 
denuded. The fossils are very poor, vegetable, and resemble 
fuci. The coal is of good quality, bituminous, non-caking, 
and leaves a gray ash. The seam is sixteen inches wide. 

" The sandstones continue down the river some forty-five 
miles, more generally with a N.W. dip, and always in gentle 
undulation, sometimes continuous for miles, and often broken 
short off. Below, the rocks for 300 miles are slates and erup- 
tive rocks of a pink color, sometimes containing spathose 
minerals. The formation changes at the Russian Mission from 
hard blue slate to a volcanic rock, full of almond-shaped cavi- 
ties, which are empty ; but certain parts of the rock are quite 
solid. It is black, and contains minute crystals (of oli- 
vine ?). [It is roughly columnar on Stuart's Island, Norton 
Sound, in five-sided columns on the beach.] From ' this to 
the sea the banks are mostly low ; but when they approach 
the river they are invaribly of blue, hard, slaty sandstone, or 
sandy slate, the rock passing from one into the other imper- 
ceptibly. This formation extends to St. Michael's, nearly 
where the before-mentioned volcanic rock takes its place, and 
continues up the shore of Norton Sound some thirty miles, 
when it is replaced by the hard slates and sandstone, and I 
have followed them up for thirty miles more to Unalachleet 
River. Here you cross in winter to the Yukon, 200 miles of 

" The entire country is sprinkled over with remains of pli- 
ocene animals, (?) Elephas^ Ovibos moschatus, etc. Beds of 
marl exist near Fort Yukon, consisting of shells (fresh-water) 
still found living in the vicinity. The Kotto River, empty- 
ing into the Yukon above Fort Yukon, is held in superstitious 
dread by the Indians, on account of the immense number of 
fossil bones existing there. The Inglutalic River, emptying 
into Norton Sound, has a somewhat similar reputation. 

" I have carefully examined the country over which I have 
passed for glacial indications, and have not found any effects 
attributable to such agencies. 

Appendix. 353 

" My own opinion, from what I have seen of the west 
coast, though yet unproved, is that the glacier field never ex- 
tended in these regions to the westward of the Rocky Mount- 
ains, although small single glaciers have and still do exist 
between spurs of the mountains which approach the coast. 
No boulders such as are common in New England, no scratch- 
es or other marks of ice-action, have been observed by any 
of our party, though carefully looked for." 



IE, 78 


017 188 678 8 

t I